HARDIN VALLEY — Response to an allegedly intentional gas leak caused by a since-fired contract janitor at Hardin Valley Academy — arrested and charged with felony reckless endangerment by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office (see related story) — raised serious questions among students, parents and elected representatives.
“Parents are understandably frustrated and angry with how this incident was handled at the school level,” said Betsy Henderson, District 6 Knox County Board of Eduction representative, noting parent feedback was “overwhelmingly negative” regarding what she labeled as an “incredibly scary” incident.
“… There are a lot of unanswered questions,” she added. “We need full transparency so everyone is fully informed of what transpired.
“As I continue to learn more, it becomes increasingly clear that changes need to be made. We need a detailed timeline of events that is available to the public so we can evaluate the facts, determine where failures occurred and make the necessary changes.”
Henderson’s bottom line was simple. “I want families to know this: I will not stop until we get to the bottom of this.”
“… I have spoken to many parents, the superintendent (Dr. Jon Rysewyk) and the sheriff (Tom Spangler),” she added. “I will work with them to get all the questions answered to determine what happened and what changes need to be made to ensure our students’ safety.”
Rysewyk announced late Monday an internal review would be conducted into the incident to examine actions taken by school and district leaders, as well as reviewing related protocols and procedures going forward. Parents, students respond
One HVA parent who corresponded with farragutpress stated, “My student and others noticed (the gas smell) before the regular class schedule began, around 8:10 (a.m., and) said the smell was incredibly strong, and students and teachers were developing headaches and feeling sick. … Students were kept in a volatile environment.”
One student who corresponded with farragutpress stated, “To know we were kept in a school that was potentially one small spark away from igniting is a very unsettling and scary thought. … I feel as if every student was done a disservice. …”
Another student reportedly started a change.org petition, asking specifically to fire HVA principal Dr. Rob Speas over the incident, which had garnered more than 300 signatures as of Tuesday, April 4.
One parent voiced support for Speas.
“I totally disagree that Speas needs to be replaced,” Donna Jordan Dillon said. “That’s just absurd. You can’t fire him because a few people aren’t happy with him.
“I have two kids at HVA and have had nothing but good interaction with him. “
Kim Frazier, At-Large Seat 10 Knox County Commissioner and parent of an HVA student, stated, “... I, along with my Hardin Valley community, am deeply saddened and gravely concerned that our children experienced this unimaginable threat.
“Like so many, I am pursuing the details surrounding this incident and will determine my course of action accordingly,” the commissioner further stated.