School system conducting internal investigation

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A dispute that began when a gym teacher walked through the middle of a Junior ROTC formation at Science Hill High School Tuesday morning led to a brief fight between that teacher and the ROTC instructor, police records show.

According to a police report filed by T. Ward with the Johnson City Police Department (JCPD), the incident occurred about 10 a.m.

By the time Ward arrived about an hour later, physical education teacher Ernest Hill and ROTC instructor Jeremiah Ross had scuffled inside Ross’s classroom, where Hill had gone to confront Ross about the exchange during formation.

The report states both men gave mostly similar accounts of what had happened, including that:

  • Ross told or asked Hill not to walk through the middle of students when they were in formation;
  • Hill had gone to the classroom later and confronted Ross about the earlier exchange;
  • Ross had grabbed Hill by the shirt or collar area and pushed him against a wall;
  • Another staff member eventually separated the two.

The biggest discrepancy in the reports involved what happened immediately after Hill confronted Ross and pointed his finger at him.

Jeremiah Ross (Photo courtesy JCPD)

Ross said he put his hand against Hill and “told him he needed to back away,” and that “Mr. Hill then punched him on the head,” Ward wrote. He wrote that Ross said he then grabbed Hill “around the collar of his shirt and pushed him against the wall” and that Hill tried to hit him again before another staff member broke it up.

In his account, Hill told Ward that Ross “slapped his hand away and then grabbed him by the throat and pushed him against the wall.”

The police report does not indicate whether students were present during the scuffle.

In his initial report, Officer Ward wrote that he was working with school officials to learn whether there was any security camera footage of the incident.

He also wrote that Sgt. Lori Goff, who oversees the system’s school resource officers, notified a JCPD major and Johnson City School Safety Director Greg Wallace of the incident.

A supplement to the report said that neither man wanted to press any charges and the JCPD is reporting the incident to the state as a case of disorderly conduct, though it was initially classified as a simple assault.

School records requested – system mum on disciplinary action

Ernest Hill (Photo courtesy JCPD)

News Channel 11 first heard about the incident Wednesday and requested information on whether either teacher had faced disciplinary action or been terminated.

Johnson City Schools’ spokesman Collin Brooks responded in an email that the system “cannot comment on ongoing personnel matters.”

Since receiving the police report, News Channel 11 has requested to view both teachers’ personnel files and asked specifically whether either one of them is still employed with the system.

A school official said the personnel files would be prepared for viewing next week.

Brooks provided the following statement to News Channel 11 in regards to the incident:

“We are aware of the incident and we are conducting an internal investigation.”

Johnson City Schools’ spokesman Collin Brooks

School officials have not yet answered the question about the men’s employment status.

News Channel 11 will provide updates as they are received. Stay updated on-air and online at