Greeson: More past mistakes mean more work for Hamilton County Schools leaders

Greeson: More past mistakes mean more work for Hamilton County Schools leaders

February 8th, 2018 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns

The Hamilton County Department of Education building is shown in this file photo.

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

Well, it's been more than two years since the nightmare at Ooltewah High School.

Thanks to excellent reporting from this paper's Zack Peterson, we all have read recent rulings by a federal court judge in the last week detailing the mistakes made by the Hamilton County Board of Education legal team.

Raise your hand if you're surprised.

Nope, me neither.

How could we be surprised? Seriously? Look at the timeline and try to answer the point at which a right decision was made at the right time.

Hazing becomes sexual abuse on a basketball trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn.

The team continues to play as the worst injured among the abused is in surgery.

The team returns home and plays in the Best of Preps Tournament before the season is finally canceled.

Confusion and finger- pointing become rampant.

Eventually — after much outside pressure — the coaching staff, the athletic director and the principal, as well as former county schools Superintendent Rick Smith, are forced out.

New Superintendent Bryan Johnson needs to keep cleaning house; anyone who made or continues to make thoughtless mistakes needs to go.

And no, single mistakes seldom should be the make-or-break moment for folks at work. We have long believed no one — professionally or personally — should be judged on their worst day.

But in cases of this type, every decision is simply bigger and should be judged with more intensity.

That leads us to where we are today, reminding the Department of Education and school board that protecting their students — our children, grandchildren or neighbors — is their priority, not protecting their jobs.

Looking for ways to make it better is on each of us, whether working for the system or paying into it.

It's with that we should all look to Johnson to continue to make needed changes.

As for the school board, which seems to routinely take the easy path, well, we need to start by asking our school board representatives what they have done to improve the system since December 2015.

And if you don't like the answers — and for the last few years, it's hard to come up with items that are truly pleasing — the next question needs to be, "Who else is on the ballot?"

Contact Jay Greeson at and 423-757-6343.

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