Gardenhire blasts Hamilton County school board over confidential settlements in Ooltewah rape cases

Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, speaks with others at his table during a visioning event for the new Howard Middle School Thursday, August 23, 2018 at Howard High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Many parents, students and teachers from schools in the Howard School feeder pattern attended the event as well as other concerned citizens.

The confidential settlement of yet another federal civil lawsuit filed against Hamilton County Schools by a second victim in the 2015 Ooltewah High School sexual assault case has a local state legislator fuming over what he calls secrecy and a lack of public accountability.

"I'm pretty upset about the way the school systems continue to hide things from the public when they spend taxpayers' money to settle lawsuits where people did things that were inappropriate," Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, said after the Times Free Press reported the second settlement last week.

He said that when the General Assembly convenes in January, he will work "to try to get legislation passed so that these kinds of things that are kept from the public" no longer are.