School board member schedules panel discussion on Ooltewah assault

Dr. Steve Highlander is first to pray in one of many breakout groups made up of four to six people each Tuesday night inside the worship center at Christway Church in Ooltewah.

School board member Steve Highlander announced today that he is collaborating with people across the city to hold a panel discussion Tuesday night on topics related to the assault of an Ooltewah High School freshman.

Highlander, who represents the Ooltewah district, said he wants to provide parents the opportunity to learn from experts about how to detect signs of bullying and abuse, and what to do if these signs are detected.

"I think parents have a lot of questions following this incident," Highlander said.

The event is scheduled for Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ooltewah United Methodist Church.

Highlander said he is working the Children's Advocacy Center, D9 and the Family Justice Center to hold the panel discussion.

Shelly Brantley, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center, said she is working to get a handful of speakers, and hopes this conversation will help prevent future violence.

Highlander said the panel will also offer advice on how to discuss the alleged assault and rape with their kids. Due to the sensitive nature of the conversation, Highlander asks that only adults plan to attend the event.

"We are trying to do something to step forward and prevent anything from happening again in the future," said Highlander. "I want this district to realize we are here for them."

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