Greeson: Hamilton County school leaders' transparency is welcomed, but more details needed from Ooltewah

Greeson: Hamilton County school leaders' transparency is welcomed, but more details needed from Ooltewah

August 20th, 2016 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns

POLL: Do you think high school hazing is a widespread problem?

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

The Hamilton County Board of Education voted to release the findings of an independent investigation in the Ooltewah High School boys' basketball program for the hazing-turned-rape incident last December.

That's a great thing, because as we aim to fix the mess we have with the Hamilton County Department of Education, the board and the interim leadership should strive for something that has been missing for years: transparency. There is a clear divide between the public and the school district's leadership, a divide that has widened because both the school board and administration seem far more interested in protecting their own backsides than in confronting problems — whether those problems are lack of communication, poor schools, teacher and student performance or aging facilities.

Anything that can bridge that broken trust is a good thing.

Still, the details of the report and its findings certainly feel less than ground breaking.

Yes, local attorney Courtney Bullard said she conducted more than 40 interviews of people involved with the school and basketball program.

Considering that four freshman basketball players were intentionally violated with a pool cue, one to the extent that he suffered internal injuries, well, what was the first clue that a "culture of hazing" existed in the program?

Also, considering that the main culprit in this event told multiple authority figures that similar things happened to him — and that the former chain of command at Ooltewah High included former coaches Jesse Nayadley and Jim Jarvis — a culture of hazing is the baseline of what we are dealing with.

And for school board member David Testerman to stand before God and everyone and say what happened in that Gatlinburg cabin was a breakdown of high school-age children is a farce, and example 1A of why the outrage among our citizenry continues unabated.

Even inferring it is a "boys-will-be-boys thing" — or blaming the "media" for reporting on problems, for Pete's sake — is cowardly and counterproductive.

Faux moral outrage

As the Olympics start to wind down, it shouldn't be surprising that we got our most recent round of social media faux outrage this week from the Games.

This time it landed on Ellen DeGeneres, who for kicks and giggles tweeted out a doctored image of Usain Bolt winning a race with Ellen on his back with the caption "This is how I'm running errands from now on."

It of course was supposed to be a compliment, showing that Bolt is as fast as an automobile and so much better than everyone else that he could still win carrying Ellen.

Of course, the image became a representation of slavery and racism.

Just stop it, folks. If anything, this at least shows the internet morality mob is just as ludicrous, regardless of the target, considering Ellen's political leanings are much to the left.

The social media back-and-forth is nuts, and you know what's truly funny about all the folks calling her a racist and what-not? Usain Bolt retweeted the same picture, so if Bolt's not upset at it — and by retweeting it, it's pretty safe to assume he's giving it the ol' thumbs up — why should some random Twitter blaster be? Oh well.

Trump's crazy week

All of the international sporting events and the in-country natural disasters, from the wildfires in California to flooding in Louisiana, have overshadowed the international in-country political disaster that is the presidential race.

On the Trump side, after campaign chairman Paul Manafort announced his resignation Friday, well, they are going to need a new roster with all these changes.

This is the latest spectacle for the Trump campaign, which has reshuffled its deck chairs (insert Titanic joke here if needed).

Despite bruising headlines, Trump has recently offered a rare look at his human side.

First, last weekend, he brought 18-year-old Giacomo Brancato on stage at an event in Connecticut. Brancato is a cancer survivor who, when contacted by Make-a-Wish earlier this year, said his dream was to meet the GOP presidential nominee.

Trump obliged and honored him and his fight on stage.

Then, on Thursday, the always bombastic Trump offered what sounded an awful lot like an apology.

"Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don't choose the right words or you say the wrong thing," he told a North Carolina audience. "I have done that, and believe it or not, I regret it."

Saturday's star

Well, this is not a star, per se, but National Joke Day was this week, so feel free to share your best bad joke.

How's this from the real world: From the headlines Friday we read that three yahoos were charged with trying to steal a tractor-trailer load of oxycodone. Is that more a highway robbery or a way to a high robbery?

Enjoy the day.

Contact Jay Greeson at or 423-757-6343.

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