Ooltewah Elementary School principal suspended, reassigned

Ooltewah Elementary School principal suspended, reassigned

October 16th, 2018 by Mark Pace and Meghan Mangrum in Breaking News

This story was updated Oct. 16, 2018, at 9:45 p.m. with more information.

Tom Arnold, the principal of Ooltewah Elementary School, has been suspended for 10 days and removed from his post at the school, Hamilton County Schools announced Tuesday.

An internal investigation began Monday, Oct. 8, was completed and resulted in the reassignment, according to district spokesman Tim Hensley.

When Arnold returns from his suspension, he will be reassigned as assistant principal at East Ridge Middle, replacing Christy Drake, who was promoted to interim principal at the school Tuesday. Drake has been the school's assistant principal for more than five years. She was a 2017-2018 graduate of PEF Principal Leadership Academy and has other leadership training. Previously, Drake was an inclusion, resource, gifted and advisory teacher at Loftis Middle School, Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts and Tyner Academy.

The district has not elaborated on the cause for the investigation, citing the reassignment as "the result of a personnel issue that did not involve academic or school financial responsibilities related to the role of principal."

Superintendent Bryan Johnson declined to comment on the reassignment, saying he "does not comment on personnel issues." Notably, Johnson has commented on previous incidents such as the recent suspension of a Soddy-Daisy High School assistant principal after a video went viral of the administrator making what Johnson called "inexcusable" comments.

Arnold released a statement Tuesday, acknowledging his reassignment after making "mistakes," according to a letter he sent to local media outlets.

It is unclear at this time as to what mistakes he was alluding.

"At no time did my personal issues negatively affect the academic integrity or financial stability of Ooltewah Elementary," Arnold said in the statement. "I will always treasure my time at Ooltewah Elementary. The school, staff, students and community have been a big part of my life."

Long-time district leader Margo Williams will temporarily come out of retirement to serve as interim principal while the district seeks a permanent leader. Williams retired as Westview Elementary principal at the end of last school year. She had been in the position since 1999 and was the longest tenured principal in the district when she retired.

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at Chattanooga OutdoorsTFP.

Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.