School board votes against buying out Rick Smith's contract

Motion to terminate him also fails

Hamilton County School Superintendent Rick Smith, third from right, waits with school board members for their meeting to start on Jan. 21. Seated from left are Rhonda Thurman, Karitsa Mosley, David Testerman, George Ricks Sr., Smith, Dr. Jonathan Welch and Donna Horn.

The Hamilton County Board of Education voted against buying out Superintendent Rick Smith's contract in tonight's meeting, meaning Smith will remain at the helm.

Five of the board's nine members voted against the buyout, and school board member Greg Martin's motion to fire Smith for cause did not receive a second.

School board members Steve Highlander, Donna Horn, Karitsa Mosley, Rhonda Thurman and Martin voted against the buy out.

The school board's attorney said in the future either the school board or Smith can propose that a new separation agreement be drafted, but at this time Smith remains superintendent.

Talk of buying out or firing Smith began in January after many in the public and some school board members criticized his handling of the rape of an Ooltewah High School freshman, allegedly by three of his basketball teammates Dec. 22.

School board member Joe Galloway, who has been a supporter of Smith, said after the vote that, "If he is going to be our superintendent we need to get behind him."

Thurman said there will need to be a "come to Jesus meeting" with Smith, and that the board can never be kept in the dark like this again, or he will be fired for cause.

Martin and Horn offered similar comments.

Under Smith's current contract, he will remain superintendent until the summer of 2019.

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