In light of intruder and lockdown, BOE member wants VHS security gate installed

Jeff Bobo • Sep 11, 2018 at 9:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Georgia man who allegedly struck a Kingsport police officer with a stolen SUV and the then fled into Hawkins County, ending up at Volunteer High School, wouldn’t have made it on campus if a parking lot security gate had been installed, according to a school board member.

The gate posts are up at the lot that separates the school buildings and the sports fields to the north, but school board member Chris Christian told the Board of Education last week that the gates themselves are lying on the ground beside the parking lot.

Christian noted during the board’s Thursday meeting that those gates were prepared years ago as part of a school safety plan.

“I have been asking why the gates haven't been installed to, in effect, complete the safety plan for that campus,” Christian said. “The gates are laying in the weeds as we speak.”

He added, “I've talked to the officer who was in the chase, and that entrance is where the criminal entered our campus, and he was able to completely drive through our campus. I have been bringing this up since the gates were made. I still think it's a wonderful (safety) plan ... if it was just implemented.”

On the morning on Aug. 27, Shannon Michael Carter, 25, allegedly struck a Kingsort police officer with a stolen 2011 Range Rover during an attempted traffic stop and fled into Hawkins County. As a result, all Hawkins County schools east of Surgoinsville were placed on lockdown, including Volunteer.

A Church Hill officer reportedly spotted Carter in the Range Rover on campus. A foot pursuit ensued following another chase and crash, and Carter was captured on Armstrong Dive, not far from the school.  

“I've heard from a lot of students and a lot of parents who were very upset about that, and they've not forgotten about it,” Christian said. “And then I go see the gates still laying there, not put up. If the gates had been installed and the safety plan in effect, that person wouldn't have been able to turn on to our campus.”

Board Chairman Bob Larkins noted that there are locked parking lot gates at other school campuses. He asked Director of Schools Dr. Reba Bailey to look into the status of the Volunteer parking lot gate and give the BOE a report at the October meeting.

Director of schools search

Larkins reported to the BOE that director of school search consultant Wayne Qualls, has chosen six finalists who he will present to the board, along with their resumes and credentials, at a special called BOE meeting Thursday.

On Thursday, board members will present Qualls with the questions they want to ask the candidates during their interviews, and he will compile those questions into a questionnaire that will be used for all six candidates.

There will be three interviews on Oct. 11 and three interviews on Oct. 12, beginning at 5 p.m. both days, with all six interviews open to the public. Board members will score each candidate’s responses, and the top two will be determined for a final round of interviews on Oct. 22 at 6 p.m.

Larkins said the goal is to have the new director’s contract signed by Thanksgiving. 

Corporal punishment policy pulled

Larkins asked that the corporal punishment policies, which are on the agenda for consideration in October, be pulled from that agenda.

He noted that there are three options to be considered, including the current policy that allows corporal punishment, a new proposed policy geared around state law, and a no-corporal-punishment policy submitted by the Tennessee School Board Association.

Larkins asked that principals and teachers be surveyed for their input and suggestions on corporal punishment before the BOE makes a decision on the policy. Board members were also encouraged to talk to the principals of the schools they represent to get their input.

"I talked to some teachers, and teachers at this point in time are just not willing to go down that road, to open themselves to any liability," Larkins said. "Some say maybe it is marginally effective."

Volunteer men’s volleyball

Volunteer High has requested approval of a men’s volleyball club to compete in the spring with other schools in the Big Seven Conference that have similar programs.

High schools supervisor Wes Smith addressed the board about the request, noting that athletic directors in the Big Seven voted to start men's volleyball as a club sport.

But board policy prohibits clubs that discriminate by gender.

Despite the fact that there is already a TSSAA girls volleyball team that competes in the fall, girls would have to be allowed to participate in the "boys" club, which Smith noted was not the original intent of the request.

Smith noted that one solution might be to form a men’s "team" instead of a club, but that would require paying the coaches.

The request was tabled to gauge student interest, seek policy advice from the TSBA, and gather more information about how other schools are managing their men’s volleyball clubs.

After school programs

The BOE voted unanimously to allow the Kingsport YMCA and Ridgeview Baptist Church to send parent surveys home with children to gauge interest in creating an after-school program for children.

The Ridgeview Baptist Church survey will go home with children from Carters Valley Elementary only, while the Kingsport YMCA survey would be issued to all elementary and middle school children east of Surgoinsville.

The Rideview program would be off campus, but the YMCA program would be on campus, and the YMCA is requiring a minimum of 20 students per campus.


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