Hamilton County School Board Holds Special Meeting about Ootlewah Assault

Superintendent Rick Smith announced the he has decided to end the team’s 2015-2016 Ooltewah Men’s basketball season in wake of the assault that took place while the team was away for a tournament doing the week of Christmas.

Superintendent Smith said this was a necessary step and was not done to punish those who were innocent.

"This decision is not a reflection upon the coaching staff. Indeed law enforcement officials have today found no evidence of that any adult acted improper. Instead this decision is recognition that the needs of law enforcement when investigating criminal wrongdoing must sometimes supersede the normal operations of the school system."

Ooltewah student Sara Jordan however said she thinks the decision to end the men’s varsity basketball season is unfair.

"I hope the boys get punished as much as they need to…what they did wasn’t right. However, I do believe it was their choice to do that and since they made that choice they should be the ones being punished, not everyone else."

School Board Attorney Scott Bennett said that this was the only way for a proper investigation to take place.

"The allegations are horrible. In terms of what actually happened in the situation we don’t know. I have asked that specific questions of law enforcement and they’ve said they can’t comment on it."

Sheriff Jim Hammond said he and his team are working with Sevier County law enforcement to handle the ongoing case, but said if new information arises in Hamilton County they will take things into their own hands.

"If evidence comes forth we feel that we need to look at the criminal investigation we will do that."

School board member Rhonda Thurman said she and the rest of the school board will not allow this or any other type of bullying to continue.

"May the people coming up behind them next year understand the severity of this and know that this will not be tolerated anymore."

Chairman Dr. Jonathan Welch closed the meeting by saying he the rest of the Hamilton County School Board are disheartened about the entire incident.

"Tragic, horrific…none describe it. I want to help assure the public as an outside entity that this will be properly investigated and not just be swept under the rug."

Categories: Crime, Hamilton County, Local News

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