Grundy County, Tenn., school board chairman Robert Foster has resigned after 12 years on the board amid growing animosity among fellow board members and the director of schools.
His resignation comes during an investigation of an attempted aggravated rape at Grundy County High School and the vandalism of a school board member's vehicle.
Foster notified Mayor Michael Brady on Tuesday via a letter of resignation, effective immediately.
"It is my opinion that the board no longer serves the best interests of the students or faculty and I cannot find my way to serve on a board where division is more important than unity," Foster wrote. "I cannot, in good conscience, be involved with a board where some deliberately hurt, annoy, or offend (fellow board members/Director) especially when it impedes the education of our children."
He said he thinks certain members of the board are more interested in dividing the county than uniting for the betterment of children.
"The last few meetings we've had were a disgrace to the citizens of Grundy County," Foster wrote. "There has been so much animosity against each other and the director, it has become impossible to move the system forward. Not only is this very frustrating, but it's an embarrassment to our entire county."
Major changes are in order before the board will be able to truly do its job, he wrote.
"I pray you and the Commissioners keep the best interest of the students in mind as the board moves forward," he wrote.
Foster said the growing contention among board members isn't the only reason he's resigned.
"I thought, for my health and well-being, I'd be better off to get out of all of the stress," he told the Times Free Press on Wednesday.
Of his 12 years on the board, Foster has served as chairman for two separate two-year terms. He said he and his wife are planning to enjoy their retirement.
County commissioners will have to appoint the next chairman, and that person will serve only through Foster's term, which ends in August 2018.
The students charged with attempted aggravated rape are a freshman, three juniors and a senior. They are accused of attempting to rape a 15-year-old teammate with the metal handle of a dust mop in the school's football fieldhouse on Oct. 11.
An oversight committee was formed to ensure investigative transparency as the school system looks into that incident. As part of the committee's investigation, school board member Chris Grooms said he found evidence the school's football money from game tickets, concessions and a T-shirt stand may not have been handled properly.
Grooms' truck was vandalized the next week after a workshop meeting to discuss the money. His truck's headlights had been spray-painted black, the word "rapist" had been spray-painted on the passenger-side door and cooking oil had been poured into his gas tank.
No suspect was listed in the vandalism report, but the school resource officer was said to be looking through the high school's surveillance footage to see if authorities could identify a suspect. Four days later, his access to retrieve footage without permission was revoked.
This story was updated Nov. 22 at 10 p.m. with more information.