Hixson High School teacher, under investigation by law enforcement, resigns

Hixson High School is shown in this 2008 staff file photo.
photo Bethany White

The Hixson High School teacher at the center of an investigation by the Chattanooga Police Department's Special Victims Unit has resigned from Hamilton County Schools, records show.

Bethany White, a veteran teacher, was suspended without pay on March 27 by the school district.

She was suspended "pending investigation into whether grounds exist to terminate [her] employment," according to a suspension letter from the district's Chief Talent Officer Keith Fogleman.

The district's investigation was looking into allegations that White is guilty of unprofessional conduct. Under Tennessee Code 49-5-501, teachers can be fired for incompetence, inefficiency, neglect of duty, unprofessional conduct and insubordination.

Conduct considered "unbecoming of a teacher" includes immorality; conviction of a felony; "dishonesty, unreliability, continued willful failure or refusal to pay one's just and honest debts"; disregard of the Tennessee Education Association's code of ethics or improper use of narcotics or intoxicants, according to the code.

Though her personnel file doesn't have much further information about the allegations, school board members confirmed that White was under investigation for an inappropriate relationship(s).

The police department's Special Victims Unit, which is dedicated to working sex crimes and domestic violence cases, has been investigating White since her suspension from the district in March.

Police spokeswoman Elisa Myzal confirmed that the investigation is ongoing and that the prosecutor will be presenting the case to a grand jury soon.

In an email dated July 1, White wrote that she had "made the decision to leave my position at Hixson."

She said the last 10 years had "fulfilled a dream" and she was proud of the accomplishments and students she has impacted.

White had worked with Hamilton County Schools since 2009. She taught sports medicine and exercise science classes and was one of the faculty members of Hixson High's Future Ready Institute - the Institute of Health Careers and Medical Advancement.

In her email, she hinted that she knew that district officials were going to suggest she resign.

"This may be the same outcome that you would have suggested or wanted, and therefore the purpose of the meeting," she wrote ahead of a planned meeting on July 2 with staff members from the district's human resources department. "Knowing your time is valuable, I wanted to go ahead and be transparent and use this email as my official resignation."

Internal documents show White's reason for termination as "resigned in lieu of discharge-mutual consent" and notes that she is not eligible for rehire by the district.

The police department has not provided further details on its pending investigation.

Bethany White's husband, Drew White, works for Hamilton County Schools as a physical education teacher and a coach at Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts.

Contact Meghan Mangrum at [email protected] or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.