School Board Member Asks Commission For Mutual Cooperation Between The Two Governing Bodies

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — The tragedy of the 4th grader who died even found it’s way into this morning’s county commission meeting.

A school board member who says it happened in her district, asks commissioners for mutual cooperation between the two groups.

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“Unfortunately, last night, as I was driving to pick up my son from football practice around 6:30 pm, I received a call that a 4th grader in my district committed suicide. And the unfortunate part is this is not the first time that I’ve received this call. However, any time this happens, this shakes me to my core. And it’s not because it’s simply a child in my district. It’s because children are the heartbeat of our community,” said Tiffanie Robinson, Hamilton County School Board member, District 4.

Tiffanie Robinson feels there’s a connection between the actions of powerful leaders and the well-being of school children.

“How did we get to this point? Where 4th graders feel like they have to take their own life? That’s not on you and that’s not on me, ok? But as a community what that makes me feel, is that we have have real problems in this community,” said Ms. Robinson.

The breach between the two bodies grew deeper after the commission vote to deny the School Board’s requested 34 cent tax increase, to fund teacher raises. And again when the Commission voted down a referendum on a wheel tax, earmarked for teacher raises earlier this month.

“I think that as elected officials, the nine of you, the nine of us, there’s eighteen people who care deeply about this community, and we have to figure out how to start solving these problems,” said Ms. Robinson.

“So I met with your board chair and your Superintendent, who I think very highly of, and said, ‘Listen guys, I’ve reached out twice, we’ve said publicly that we’re going to meet again, then you’ve cancelled,” said District 2 Commissioner Chip Baker.

The new chair of the Education Committee is Commissioner David Sharpe.

“I certainly will be working with School Board members to help facilitate that, but uh, there is uh, if there’s guilt to be passed around, there’s – there’s guilt on both sides of this conversation, between both bodies,” said David Sharpe, District 6 Commissioner.

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Ashley is a lifetime Chattanooga area resident, and a 1987 graduate from UTC, with a BA in communications. While there, he was commissioned through the ROTC program, served simultaneously in the 1/181st field artillery Tn. Army National Guard, finished Airborne school, was a member of the Scabbard and Blade military honor society and ROTC Rangers, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, played snare drum with the UTC Marching band, and played in a southern rock band called Southern Atmosphere, while working a full time job as a trainer at the Sports Barn. He also won the Southeastern United States teenage bodybuilding competition during this time. Ashley has been with News 12 Now for 21 years. Prior to working here he was a videographer, director, producer and editor at Falcon Cable TV in Dalton, Ga. for 6 years where he produced thousands of commercials and dozens of hour long features. He also worked as a freelancer and employee at another network affiliate in Chattanooga. He has operated a part time video production business from home for 25 years. He says his passion is telling stories that feature people who give of themselves to help others, and stories that inspire people to make positive changes in themselves and their communities. Ashley is ecstatically married to Debbie Henderson, and has two step sons, a daughter in law, a sister, and lots of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews. His parents are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. Ashley and Debbie are active members of Brainerd Baptist Church. His interests include weight training and cycling with his wife, photography, poetry, playing drums, and checking off items from his extensive honey-do list. If you would like to reach Ashley, email him at ahenderson@wdef.com.