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Ooltewah Assault

Community's confidence in school system dwindles after Ooltewah rape

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HCDE Superintendent Rick Smith HCDE Superintendent Rick Smith

Hamilton County School Board members are gearing up for their third meeting in less than a month hoping this time they'll walk away with more answers. 

"How? Why? How could this have happened? Why don't we have all the information? Why isn't it coming faster?" District 7 representative Donna Horn said. 

Members will meet behind closed doors with HCDE attorney Scott Bennett and Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston to discuss developments surrounding the Ooltewah rape case.

READ MORE: Channel 3's coverage of the Ooltewah assault case 

It's a situation that's had a personal impact on Horn. 

"I don't wake up without thinking about that young boy and I don't go to bed without praying for him because I know how traumatic this incident has been for him and will continue to be," she said. 

Superintendent Rick Smith's position has come under fire with more than 1,300 signatures now on a petition calling for both him and former basketball coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery to resign.

Montgomery was suspended without pay last week along with his assistant coach and the school's athletic director after being charged for failure to report child abuse. 

READ MORE: Online petitions gathering momentum after Ooltewah rape

The outcry from the community has District 3 representative Dr. Greg Martin taking notice. 

"I think the community has made it pretty clear that they've lost confidence in the system and I think there needs to be change," Martin said. 

Horn agrees the community's confidence in the system has taken a hit but says she still has confidence in Smith and his role as superintendent. 

"I think he really, really operates with a true heart and concern for the system and I know this is tearing him up," she added. 

It's unclear if Smith's employment will be brought up at Thursday's meeting but it's important to know, Smith's contract was extended six months ago through 2019, making for a pretty costly buyout for taxpayers if one were to happen. 

We contacted all of the school board members asking if they had confidence in Smith, the rest did not get back to us. 

The next school board meeting is Thursday evening at 5:30. 

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