Updated at 5:28 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, with more information
Soddy-Daisy High School athletic director and assistant principal Jared Hensley released a statement Thursday morning apologizing for his controversial remarks in a video last week that drew national attention. The school district also announced that Hensley would not be fired and would resume his position after a 10-day period.
In the video, broadcast to the entire student body while addressing a dress code policy on athletic shorts (which students are not allowed to wear at the school), Hensley said, "If you really want someone to blame, blame the girls. Because they pretty much ruin everything. They ruin the dress code, they ruin well, ask Adam. Look at Eve. That's really all you really gotta get to, OK. You can really go back to the beginning of time. So, it'll be like that the rest of your life. Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the rules."
In today's statement, Hensley apologized for his "inappropriate comments" and acknowledged his "poor choice of words."
Jared Hensley issues apologyView
"Using wording that would offend was not my intent when recording the video, but after watching it I understand how wrong my choice of words was, and I accept full responsibility for the pain this has caused and the consequences that certainly come with my actions. I value the young women at Soddy Daisy High School and all women. I understand my comments did not reflect that to those who saw the video," Hensley said.
Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson placed Hensley on administrative leave on Sept. 26 in response to the remarks, calling them "inexcusable."
When he returns from leave, Hensley will be required to complete a professional growth plan, sensitivity training and Title IX training, according to the district. The district also plans on working with Soddy-Daisy students to improve the climate and culture of the school.
Karen Glenn, director of the STARS (Students Taking a Right Stand) program within the district will organize student groups to gather feedback and chart a direction for the school.
"Soddy Daisy is a strong community school, and it is our goal to maintain the standard of excellence that has been a part of the community for many years," said Neelie Parker, executive director of the North River Learning Community that includes Soddy-Daisy High, in a statement. "All students are important, and this is a teachable moment for positive change at Soddy Daisy."
Hensley's comments sparked national outrage after the video went viral and was picked up by dozens of news outlets. Petitions, both calling for Hensley to be fired and in support of him, cropped up on Care2.com, a social networking website, and supporters started using the hashtag "#TeamHensley" online.
The situation also prompted debate locally, as some correlated Hensley's comments to other debates about sexual harassment and the treatment of women in the wake of Bill Cosby's sentencing and hearings on accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh last week.
Others, including many Soddy-Daisy students and residents, rallied around the administrator.
Hamilton County Commission Vice Chairman Randy Fairbanks even chimed in, releasing a statement in support of Hensley.
"A good man's reputation, career and livelihood are on the line. I will be the first to say that Coach Hensley used poor judgment with the words he used, but to classify him as a sexist is just wrong," Fairbanks said.
Fairbanks represents District 1, which includes Soddy-Daisy.
Soddy-Daisy High Principal Steve Henry also issued an apology last week.
"The recent comments about young women by Assistant Principal Jared Hensley are not representative of who we are as a school, and I do not condone his comments. I sincerely apologize that the video was played at school and that the inappropriate comments may have upset any member of our community," Henry said in a statement.
Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at email@example.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.
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