UnifiEd Claims Hamilton County Not Following State Guidelines on Bullying
A local organization claims the Hamilton County school system isn't following state bullying policies.
UnifiEd released a statement, Tuesday night, claiming Hamilton County Schools is missing 5 of 13 provisions to a bullying policy required by the state.
Elizabeth Crews with the local education advocacy organization says she doesn't think schools teaching students about bullying and hazing.
"Our student research team learned they weren't necessarily complying with what they needed to be complying with as far as state law mandates," Crews explained.
She says the school system doesn't have an easy way for students to report hazing or bullying.
She suggests a text message system or anonymous phone line.
"I think we really need to look at this as a school system and make sure students have a way to report if they're being bullied or harassed or intimidated without fear of retaliation," she said.
Crews also told me students have told her they never received a school handbook, which is required to have the state bullying and hazing policy.
Students will return to school tomorrow for the first time since a basketball team trip that left a freshman in the hospital.
Tuesday night, classmates held a vigil for the student. They prayed for him and the students accused of hurting him.
Students like Will Whitson say news of a hazing incident that required a student to undergo surgery worries them about returning to school from Christmas break.
"When we heard who it was and what had happened it shocked my family because my sisters went to Ooltewah too and nothing like that has ever happened before," Whitson said.
He says he's close friends with one of the students accused of raping his teammate.
I've known him for quite a while and he didn't come off as the type of person to try and do that to someone and it just didn't seem real," he said.
Whitson says he's seen some hazing at Ooltewah High but doesn't think there's a problem.
Wednesday night, the Hamilton Co School Board will hold a closed door meeting to discuss the rape allegations.
After, they will open the floor for questions.
Depend on us to bring you the latest from that meeting.