Cooper: School board faces its own high-stakes test

Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith signals his intention to step down and seek a buyout of his contract at a Thursday meeting of the Hamilon County School Board.
When Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith resigned Thursday, he surely felt both a personal sense of relief - stemming from pressure building from criticism of his handling of alleged rape of an Ooltewah High School basketball player on a school trip in December - and perhaps a sense of relief for the district from the public outcry over the situation.

When he offered to step down, the Hamilton County Board of Education agreed to negotiate a buyout, but board members didn't buy any relief for themselves. They face the challenging task of naming Smith's successor - in the short and long runs.

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