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Hartselle Enquirer

Hartsell: Policy followed

By Staff
The actions of school administrators following the collapse of two Hartselle High School students March 4 were correct, according to School Superintendent Dr. Lee Hartsell.
Leada DeVaney
Hartselle Enquirer
At a work session Monday, Hartsell defended the handling of the incident, saying administrators followed proper procedure.
"In my opinion the situation was handled correctly," he said.
Questions arose after the two students – one who later tested positive for marijuana – collapsed in a school hallway. Principal Jerry Reeves took the students to Hartselle Medical Center and no ambulance was called. The Hartselle Police Department was also not contacted.
Some, including members of the Hartselle City Council, have questioned if the incident was handled properly. School officials have repeatedly denied there were any cover-ups.
In his review of the incident, Hartsell said Reeves made several "judgment calls."
"When he (Reeves) got there, one of the students was up walking around and the other was sitting up drinking orange juice. He (Reeves) knew one of the students, knew him all his life, and knew this kind of thing had happened before," Hartsell said.
Transporting a student by ambulance depends on the severity of the illness or injury, Hartsell said. He also defended the decision not to contact the police.
"At the time this happened, it was dealt with as a health problem and not a drug problem," he said. "That's why the police weren't called."
Hartsell said he did not feel the School Board should re-open the investigation.
"I don't think we did anything wrong. In my opinion, it was handled correctly. Where there flaws? No."
Those answers may not be enough for some members of the city council, however. Council members Tom Chappell, Don Hall, Frank Jones and Dick Carter, as well as Mayor Clif Knight, all attended Monday's work session. Chappell and Hall have voiced their support for the board and Hartsell, but Jones, Carter and Councilman Allen Stoner have called for Hartsell to retire and for Board President Susan Puckett to resign. Knight said he was considering Hartsell's answers before he made his decision.
The council has threatened to take a vote of no confidence for the board and Hartsell and though it has no direct control over the board, it would further tarnish a group that's taken a beating as result of the incident. The city council is currently in the process of interviewing prospective school board members as it considers its next appointment.