County commissioners voice concern about Rick Smith's leadership

County commissioners voice concern about Rick Smith's leadership

January 20th, 2016 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

County attorney Rheubin Taylor initiates voting during a Hamilton County Commission meeting in this file photo.

County attorney Rheubin Taylor initiates voting during a...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Councilman Greg Beck speaks during a Hamilton County commission meeting.

Councilman Greg Beck speaks during a Hamilton County...

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

Hamilton County commissioners voiced concern this morning regarding the school district's leadership.

In the wake of the alleged assault and rape of an Ooltewah High School freshman by his basketball teammates on Dec. 22, Commissioner Sabrena Turner-Smedley said she has received many calls from people across the county concerned with how the district is handling this situation.

Smedley, a graduate of Ooltewah High School, said, "it seems that the public has lost confidence in a system that they feel is broken, and they feel that we have some authority in this situation since we are the funding body."

She asked Rheubin Taylor, the county's attorney, if the commission has any authority over hiring and firing of Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith, or the decisions of the school board. 

Taylor said the County Commission can pray and show concern, but as an official body they have no oversight or control of the Hamilton County Board of Education.

"You have no authority other than the appropriation of funding as requested by the school board," Taylor said.  "That's it."

Commissioner Greg Beck added that he is disappointed in the school system's leadership, criticizing how silent they have been to address this situation.

"We do not have authority," Beck said.  "But we do have this microphone."

Beck added that he hopes the school board will realize that action needs to be taken.

The school board is scheduled to meet Thursday night at 5:30 p.m.  

See Thursday's Times Free Press for the full story.

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