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Reporting child abuse main focus of new school year following OHS assault

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The front and the back of the card given to teachers at Hamilton County schools to help with reporting child abuse. The front and the back of the card given to teachers at Hamilton County schools to help with reporting child abuse.

As Hamilton County teachers return to the classroom today they are being reminded of how to report child abuse.

A business card with information on how to report abuse or alleged abuse is being distributed to each teacher through school principals. The card details “protocol for reporting child abuse” and lists hotline numbers and information on how to contact law enforcement.

READ MORE | Continuing Coverage: Ooltewah Assault

“If out of town, call both local law and Hamilton County law enforcement,” the card reads. Employees are also instructed to contact a principal or supervisor, the operations director or superintendent and the human resources department if allegations are against school personnel. The card advises employees to make these calls immediately after securing proper medical treatment for any student involved if necessary.

" Last year was challenging but this is a new year and we are so excited about the great things that are happening in this district," said Chief Academic Officer Jill Levine, Hamilton County Schools. "Our focus is making sure every kid is safe everyday. Whether they are with us in school, in the community, or on a trip somewhere and that has to be the first thing we do."

Channel 3 has also learned all central office employees received training on how to report abuse prior to the school year beginning.

The new training comes on the heels of the assault and rape of an Ooltewah High School basketball player last December in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The team was out of town for a tournament when three players allegedly assaulted another teammate. The criminal case against the three students is expected to be heard later this year in Sevier County.

The assault also prompted a major change in the school district’s leadership. Superintendent Rick Smith stepped down, following criticism from school board members and the community on how he handled the incident.

Ooltewah High School volunteer coach Karl Williams was charged with failure to report child sex abuse. Those charges were later dismissed by the Hamilton County District Attorney because Williams had not received proper training on reporting abuse.

A Hamilton County grand jury indicted the team’s head basketball coach, Andre Montgomery on four counts of failure to report child sexual abuse. He is due back in court on August 15.

The school’s athletic director, Jesse Nayadley, was also charged with failure to report child sex abuse. Nayadley accepted a pre-trial diversion on the conditions of completing at least 10 hours of community service and taking a class on mandatory reporting. If he completes those requirements his record will be wiped clean.

" The idea is to get information at their fingertips with every teacher and make communication clear in what's expected and what the law is really," said Jill Levine. 

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