Rick Smith Retires as School Superintendent

The Hamilton county school superintendent will not continue in that job, after all.
Rick Smith told the board last week he would stay—but now he has announced he will retire effective July 1st, and will take leave immediately.
The move will add a sense of urgency to the school board’s search for a replacement.

Last week, the school board refused to buy out Rick Smith’s contract—or fire him.
They told him to just keep doing the job, and he said he would.

Rick Smith has been with the Hamilton county schools for almost 34 years, the last 5 in the top job.

Little did he know that an assault on an Ooltewah basketball player last December would end that relationship–under a cloud.
Board members are re-acting to Monday’s announcement.

DR. GREG MARTIN “I’m not surprised that he reversed course…I’m just surprised that he reversed course within 7 days.”

RHONDA THURMAN, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER “I can’t say I’m …I wish none of this had ever had to happen, his has been very difficult for everyone concern it may be the best thing now so that we can move forward.”

DAVID TESTERMAN, BOARD MEMBER “I haven’t talked to Rick…so I could not tell you…I could only speculate, and I would just say he’s probably feeling a lot of relief right now.”

David Testerman is a former principal at severaI local schools. He has supported Smith from the beginning.
Dr. Greg Martin has not and made a motion to terminate Smith’s contract. It died for lack of a second.

DR. MARTIN (IN:05:24:06) “He will not be entitled to the 269-thousand dollars that was on the buy out that we voted against..that I voted against. That’s off the table. But I think that he will be eligible for ..like anybody who’s been in the system that long retires.”

But according to Assistant Superintendent for finance, Smith can retire with about 234-thousand dollars accrued vacation and 68-hundred in sick leave.
His state retirement this year could be as much as 95-thousand dollars.

When the board meets this week, its first priority will likely be finding someone quickly to hold the that job in the interim.

DR. GREG MARTIN “I want to find someone who’s not afraid to go outside the box. And to reinvent the structure of Hamilton county’s public education-public education is so important .”

RHONDA THURMAN ” I think right now we need somebody from outside to come in and help us navigate through the budget. I’d like somebody with a lot of experience in that area, not necessarily anybody from education system.”

The loudest criticism of the superintendent came when he waited more than a week before commenting the brutal attack on the young Ooltewah basketball player by his three teammates.
The player accused of actually carrying out the assault will be in court Tuesday in Sevierville to determine if he’ll be tried as an adult.

Categories: Crime, Education, Hamilton County

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