School board member questions director’s involvement in suspension of Crockett player

Sports
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The Musket Bowl is one of the biggest high school football rivalries in our region. 

Ahead of this year’s big game, controversy over a suspension has been plaguing one of the teams. 

Washington County, Tennessee school board member Annette Buchanan confirmed with News Channel 11 that one of the players on David Crockett’s football team is currently on suspension for being caught with a ‘vaping mechanism.’

Buchanan went on to say this reported incident happened before David Crockett’s fall break and that a plan of action for discipline was handled within David Crockett’s administration.

“Our principal was out of town, so the assistant principal of discipline handled the process. He got together a plan, called the principal, the principal okayed it, but said I would like you to run this by our director of discipline, which would be the assistant director of discipline, he ran it by the assistant director of discipline, said yeah that’s fine, this is the way we are going to handle this,” Buchanan said.

According to Buchanan the administration had agreed that the student’s five day suspension begin on the 22nd of this month (a Monday) and last for the entire week.

“That is a full week of school, principals have the ability to work around student schedules, which would be testing, breaks, we did not have a full week of school this week, so in the classroom when you do not have a full week of school you may have testing, or have something you have to finish up on that Friday, which makes sense to be able to put the kid into the next week, which is a full week of school, this is not something that has been done for this one kid, this is something that’s done at both high schools to take care of scheduling,” Buchanan said.

Within the past week, Buchanan said the plan of action was changed by central office and that the student’s suspension began on Monday the 15th. Because students were out of school on Thursday the 18th, she said that meant the student would be suspended through next Monday. 

“On Saturday or Sunday this week, my understanding was the director of discipline called the director of schools and the plan was not okay with him, and he changed the plan, so this is where we are with yes, the administration did not do the way Dr. Flanary would like things to be done, so he can over rule, that’s his job he can do that…policy was followed the process was done and we changed the process in mid-stream for this child,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan told us Friday afternoon she was still puzzled as to why the disciplinary plan of action was changed.

“I don’t truly understand why there was interference from the director of schools, you just don’t change in mid-stream, if you want to change something you say I don’t like this, then after this point this is the way we’re going to do it,” Buchanan said.

Social media has been swirling with rumors that the original plan of action was accommodating to the fact that this student would be allowed to first play in the Musket Bowl and then begin suspension, but Buchanan said she does not believe that to be true.

“It’s totally academic focused, it’s not about other activities…if they would have suspended him two weeks ago he would have missed a game too, it doesn’t matter when he missed a game, it doesn’t matter when he was punished, there was a plan in place,” Buchanan.

Buchanan reiterated that she’s not sure why the timeline for the suspension was changed.

“We’re going to have to figure that out in the couple of weeks to come, I’m still asking questions, there’s still other board members asking questions about how all of this came about and most people say ‘well this will die down’ I don’t think from a board member’s perspective, until I get the answers, I don’t think I am going to let it go,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan said what bothers her the most is how it could impact the student involved.

“When you tell a student you are going to do one thing and you do another, you lie to them, they lose trust in you…I think they had a knee jerk reaction instead of gathering the information and then make an informed decision…they didn’t go to their principal and say why did you do this, they said you know this is what they did, suspend them now,” Buchanan said.

Before we met with Annette Buchanan, we were able to reach Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary by phone.

When we asked Dr. Bill Flanary if we could confirm a David Crockett High School football Player was suspended and would not be playing in the Musket Bowl, he said “I don’t think I will go that far, it’s been all over social media and everything and I’m not even going to confirm that…just not going to talk about it.”

Dr. Flanary did go on to say that, “I’m very proud of the way the administration at the school has handled all of this controversy, I’ve been back and forth with the principals and others there and they have conducted themselves in I feel a very professional way, they’ve kept their heads up during a very trying situation and we’re all looking forward to a very competitive football game this evening.” 

While he would not confirm anything about any disciplinary action or a specific student due to the FERPA law, Dr. Flanary said…”as far as the timeline and everything, at this point the way I feel about it is every student should be treated the same equitably and fairly, and disciplinary action should be meted out when the infraction occurs, this is something that I’ve emphasized now with all of our administrators and going forward I’m hoping that we can avoid what has been a very troubling time in our school system’s history…”

We also reached out to other school board members for comment and were able to reach Todd Ganger and Phillip McLain by phone. Neither of them said they wanted to comment.

When we reached out to David Crockett High School for comment we were referred back to central office.

Buchanan said there’s been a lot of tension ahead of Friday night’s game but she was hopeful that this will be resolved.

“Tempers are flaring over the kid, it’s not about a game, it’s not about any of that it is about this one kid…that has been, I feel like drug through it, he doesn’t deserve this…because of our county rivalry is why we are talking about this kid and that shouldn’t even play into this at all, the suspension should have just been gone through like any normal kid but it makes a big deal out of it because he has some talent on the field…it hurts my heart for this child,” Buchanan said.

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