An athletic director at a Tennessee high school was placed on administrative leave Wednesday, after remarks described as “inexcusable” by the county’s schools superintendent. In an address to students, Jared Hensley said girls “pretty much ruin everything.”
Hensley, also an assistant principal at Chattanooga-area Soddy Daisy High, was informing students that the dress code now barred athletic shorts. “I know, boys, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t understand why,’ ‘That’s not fair,’ ‘Athletic shorts go past your knees,’ ” he said. “I didn’t make the rules — well, I kind of did. But that’s the rules, so that’s just what we’re going to stick to.”
After declaring that students wearing such shorts would receive detention, Hensley said, “If you really want someone to blame, blame the girls. Because they pretty much ruin everything.
“They ruin the dress code, they ruin — well, ask Adam. Look at Eve. … You can really go back to the beginning of time.
“So, it’ll be like that the rest of your life,” he continued. “Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the rules.”
The remarks quickly sparked an outcry, one led in part by Moms for Social Justice, a Chattanooga-based group that posted video of the address on Twitter, saying, “We will NOT stand for this language and sentiment from a school official here.” The group asked for complaints to be directed to Hamilton County school board members.
In announcing that Hensley was being placed on administrative leave, superintendent Bryan Johnson said in a statement that after reviewing the video, he and other officials found the “comments about young women in this video inexcusable, as the sentiments expressed do not align with the values of Hamilton County Schools.”
“We hold our employees and our leaders to a high standard, and these comments do not match the high expectations we have for our employees,” Johnson said, noting that an investigation into the matter was ongoing. “We seek to prepare all children for success in life after high school and expect our employees to provide an atmosphere that will empower all children to reach their full potential.”
A county school board member, Tucker McClendon, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that Hensley’s comments were “stupid” and sent an “inappropriate message,” adding, “I would really like to see an apology to the women of Soddy Daisy, and that staff and the women across the county.”
Hensley did not respond to an emailed request for comment by The Washington Post.
The school board member for Soddy Daisy’s district, Rhonda Thurman, said her community had more pressing matters of concern, such as damaging rainfall. “There’s a lot going on right now to be worried about this in Soddy Daisy. I’m having a real hard time getting upset about this,” Thurman told the newspaper. “I’m not worried about that right now. He meant absolutely no harm by this.”
“Can nobody take a joke anymore?” she added. “He was just talking to the kids in their language and trying to be funny.”
According to WRCB-TV, Soddy Daisy’s senior class president posted a message of support for the AD, claiming that while “what Hensley said was not well thought out and was taken a little bit too far,” she “NEVER felt victimized or shamed for who/what I am, by Hensley or any other staff member.”
“We are 100 percent behind Hensley,” class president Tori Brown wrote of herself and the vice president.
“I have no doubt that Mr. Hensley will claim he was joking,” Taylor Lyons of Moms for Social Justice told the newspaper. “However, given the current social climate, his comments are insensitive at best and wildly inappropriate at worst. To suggest that ‘girls are responsible for ruining everything since the beginning of time and will continue to do’ so is completely unacceptable, and he needs to apologize.”
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