Darren Doyle, story and photos
Superintendent of Edmonson County Schools Patrick Waddell held a press conference at the Board of Education today in Brownsville to address a recent dress code issue involving a minor student and the minor's parents. On Thursday and Friday Jan 15-16th, the student and one of the student's parents sent the Edmonson Voice photos of the student involved in the incident along with five other students that were apparently questioned for dress code violations. The caption of the photo read "Suck it, dress code."
The Edmonson Voice looked into the situation and after several interviews with faculty, administration, and several students, we felt that this was not a newsworthy event, but responded to the student and parent and suggested they write a letter-to-the-editor about the situation. They did not submit a letter or any other information.
A story about the incident aired on the local television station WBKO on Monday, January 18, that Supt. Waddell called "inaccurate and unfair." The station even sent out text alerts on that day with the incident being "breaking news." From there, several national news outlets, magazines, entertainment websites, and blogs picked up the story and Waddell said each one became more inflated and inaccurate as it went on.
Mr. Waddell said that both he and ECHS principal Tommy Hodges were contacted by WBKO and they both gave statements, however, he said that most of their comments were not used and that the story was one sided. "I talked to the reporter for over an hour and not a single quote from me was used in the story," Waddell said.
Waddell said that since the story aired, Mr. Hodges and his family have been the victims of negative emails, posts, and comments, some even being threatening. "I'd think that a TV station would have more important news alerts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day than to send out alerts about a dress code violation at Edmonson County High School," Waddell said.
So what happened? The student claims she was forced on her knees while Mr. Hodges uncomfortably measured the length of her skirt from the floor. The school dress code says:
Hodges says that's not how the incident occurred. He said that a teacher suggested the student go to the office and make sure her dress was long enough. Hodges said her parents were not contacted by the school and that he thought this would be a simple incident where he or another administrator would probably issue a warning if the dress was in question and send the student back to class.
However, Hodges said the parents showed up at the school and both the parents and the student requested specifically for Mr. Hodges to measure the dress length, which according to school policy, must be done as the student is at a kneeling position. "The dress was 8 inches from the ground, which was clearly in violation of the dress code," Hodges said. "I never made physical contact with the student, I don't even normally do that part of it, but they specifically asked me to."
He said the parents then checked the student out of school at their own choosing for the remainder of the day, and that no one forced anyone to go home. Hodges said he even excused the absence, something that was out of the ordinary.
Hodges said he would be more than happy to explore possibilities of making changes to the dress code if that's what was needed. It would need to be brought before the Site-Based Decision Making Council, which writes the dress code. However, instead of a dress code issue taking focus, he said the incident has recently turned more into a personal attack on him.
The majority of the student body has supported Hodges, the dress code, and the current policies. There are current popular hashtags on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, that say #IStandWithHodges.
Supt. Waddell said that Hodges followed school policy by the book, and did nothing wrong. Waddell said the story has become nothing but twisted drama. "Some of the comments that Mr. Hodges has received have accused him of being a sexual predator or pedophile."
An emotional Waddell backed Hodges completely as he described Hodges' lengthy resume over the years that was quite impressive.
"I've been amazed by how fast this has taken off, nationally," Waddell said. "It's made me realize that when I read a lot of these national stories now, I'm not going to put much trust in what's being said."
Hodges said he was simply doing his job. "The only reason why I even took part in this aspect of this particular dress code violation was because the parents asked me to," he said. "I want people to know that my idea of the next day at school is just to leave this whole mess alone. We've got testing coming up, we've got state requirements coming up, and we need to get back to school. We need to move on."
Hodges said he apologized to the staff and board for any embarrassment he'd caused the district, but Waddell said it was unnecessary, as Hodges did the job he was expected to do. Hodges also credited his wife for being strong and standing by him. "I'm 6'4" and 260 pounds, she's only 5'2", but she carried me for two days."
Waddell said he was proud of Edmonson County for the support the entire district has received in light of the national negative spotlight. "I can't think of a better place to raise your kids, I'm proud of our folks here."
1/26/2016 06:08:52 pm
walkin on edge of a fine line eh
1/26/2016 05:00:42 pm
I support them both 100% in everything they've said and done and will continue to stand behind them. Some people love drama and that's just how it is, mature people would have handled this in an adult matter and it never would have went this far. These kids better get ready for real life because there will always be rules to follow. This is so petty and disgusts me to see our good town drug through the mud.
Dr. CJ Pruitt
1/26/2016 05:12:55 pm
I'm proud to be an alumni of a school system with integrity... and a backbone.
1/26/2016 05:20:34 pm
Mr. Hodges was my principle at wehs n this is absolutely ridiculous in NO way is he a sexual preditor or anything like that he has always been a great role model and principle n it really saddens me to hear him being accused of such horrible things!!!
R. Steven Grimes
1/26/2016 08:38:04 pm
How did you manage to make such a broad and nebulous statement? Nothing in this story even remotely had sexual content. Also...spelling and punctuation are wonderful things to know.
1/26/2016 09:03:13 pm
Jordan I agree with you people are so ignorant and want attention Mr Hodges was a great principal and lord knows that man kept me out of a lot of trouble he's a great person I don't understand how some one could say that it really does break my heart that someone should say things that are not in away true at all .
1/26/2016 05:27:02 pm
I stand behind you 100% no need to be sorry.you are a good boss and the custodians at edmonson high school appreciate you and the the things you have done to make our jobs easier
1/26/2016 05:33:38 pm
I am APPALLED at how the Parents are acting. I don't know Mr. Hodges, BUT I Applaud him and the school system. I am a graduate of Edmonson Co. And back in the day, you had to dress accordingly , no mini skirts, or dresses, or shorts. These parents need to understand, it's protecting their kids, and trying to teach them that you can't go to an interview dressed like that, or go to work. Parents these days don't have a care as to how little Jimmy or little Jane act or dress. Keep up the Great work Mr. Hodges. You have my SUPPORT !!!!!
1/26/2016 05:46:59 pm
I am from Edmonson County and graduated from ECHS. I stand with Hodges! Let's Go Wildcats and keep supporting this man!
1/26/2016 05:49:01 pm
When we were in school we had a dress code for several years we weren't allowed to wear pants I think the kids of today are trying to be the parent and the parent does what the kids say your children go to school to learn lets get back to that I think mr hodges was right in what he did we have to have rules and disclipine
1/26/2016 06:01:30 pm
Mr. Hodges doesn't need to apologize for anything. Sounds like he's the victim. Hold your head up high Mr. Hodges because you did nothing wrong and people know that this came from "Attention Seekers". It's a shame that the liberal media can publish slanderous articles to promote their political views while honest hard working people are made victims. WBKO owes you and the school system an apology for not being more thorough with their investigation and for airing an inaccurate story.
1/26/2016 06:09:53 pm
Thank you for reporting the true story. I do not personally know either parties involved but proud of my county and our morals. I hope WBKO sees this article and realizes what classy reporting is. Thank you Edmonson Voice.
1/26/2016 06:12:56 pm
Mr. Hodges was my teacher in high school. I find it highly unlikely he did anything inappropriately. This is ridiculous.
1/26/2016 06:47:39 pm
Maybe they should go to school uniforms. Problem solved!
Amanda Carver Saltsman
1/26/2016 07:11:03 pm
This seriously saddens me to know that this man and his wonderful family is being judged and spoke about in this manner. I had this man as a teacher back in the day and in no way is this in his character. I STAND WITH HODGES!! Also I see this as a parent issue, look what you are teaching your children acting this way. Tommy Hodges is an amazing educator who takes the time and makes sure every child in the room is filled with knowledge. I shake my head to this
Beth and Jarrod Hawkins
1/26/2016 07:30:11 pm
We support Mr. Hodges and Mr. Waddell. It is encouraging to see how they are handling the entire situation. They both have excellent reputations that proceed them.
Laura Alvey Jessie
1/26/2016 07:47:55 pm
You stop apologizing, Tommy Hodges. Don't let lies get you down. Hold your head up in all the photos. I pray for you strength. Dig in your heels, Patrick Waddell. Square your shoulders back and don't give up. Thank you both for your response to the story.
Makayla Hardin (Jones)
1/26/2016 07:55:46 pm
I had Mr. Hodges in high school as a teacher years ago. Even then he enforced school regulations while never threatening, discriminating, or making anyone feel uncomfortable while doing so. People need to grow up and face the fact they broke the rules and deal with the consequence. Why would the parents want their daughter to dress like going to church while going to school anyways?
1/26/2016 07:56:10 pm
I worked with Tommy at both Hart co. and Hardin Co. EMS, he was one of the best and most professional paramedics I've ever had the pleasure to work with. He made sure to do what was right and true at that job and I have no doubt he done the same at this one.
1/26/2016 07:57:32 pm
School uniforms would solve the problem all the way around for everyone.
1/26/2016 08:05:14 pm
Mr. Hodges is one of the BEST men I know , he goes above and beyond to do good by his student and parents ,I know this because he helped my son when he was injured playing football and in an accident unrelated to school later on . He and his family are great people .It is sickening how some people will go out of their way to cause trouble when it amounts to a hill of beans . Dress codes are just that dress codes, I saw the news story on tv , it was so one sided it was outrageous .They might want to investigate the story not just help spread stories to start trouble very disappointed in the news station WBKO they did not do their job correctly
1/26/2016 08:06:40 pm
As a school board member I am very proud of the way Mr. Waddell and Mr. Hodges have handled this situation. I am very disappointed in how easy it was for our local news station (WBKO) to report only one side of a story and not report ALL the facts they were given concerning this incident. Thanks to the Edmonson Voice for making the right call in the first place. Sometimes the best journalism is knowing when something does not add up and leaving it alone. Congratulations for the factual and professional reporting of this matter.
1/26/2016 08:10:36 pm
“To vilify a great man is the readiest way in which a little man can himself attain greatness.”
1/26/2016 08:12:41 pm
I worked with Mr. Hodges, at another school and He is one of the BEST!! I am behind him100%. He is there to enforce the rules and make learning a priority!!
1/26/2016 08:15:21 pm
Hodges is the best principle ECHS has had in a long time. I think he is a great man with a kind heart. When my mom showed up late to my senior night Mr. Hodges walked me on the football field like he was my dad! Sure as hell am proud of what he has accomplished with ECHS! I got your back hodges because you don't have anything to be ashamed or sorry for!
1/26/2016 08:36:11 pm
I am very proud of our school system and the manner in which they are handling this. We had to follow the same dress code and no one ever had a problem with it until now. There will always be a dress code, learn to deal with it now.
1/26/2016 09:05:34 pm
I STAND WITH HODGES! Mr Hodges was a teacher of mine when he was at hart co. One of the best at that. I've known him personally all my life as well as his wife and kids and to see what these parents and student is trying to accuse him of is total bs! There's no way in the world that anything like that would happen with mr hodges and these accusations are sickening. So if there is anything I can do please feel free to contact me. 270-218-1095 #istandwithhodges
1/26/2016 09:05:57 pm
It is a shame that those parents of the girl let her carry this so far. There are rules and as parents it is our responsibility to stand by authority, in this case Mr. hodges, and help him. Let the teachers do what they are there to do. When some of these students get out in the real world they will find out time to grow up and for those that make an issue out of something they don't like reality will hit them hard. Kudos to Mr. Waddel, Mr. Hodges, and our whole school system.
1/26/2016 09:08:48 pm
i have know tommy all my life. he is one outstanding person i went to school with himand his sister he was a great person in school. hold your head up tommy people know you , know what you are a good person i am with you 100%
1/26/2016 09:42:36 pm
I agree with Mr. HODGES. He was my teacher at Hart County High School, and me nor my parents were offended when he questioned me about shorts I wore. My parents brought me clothes to shool and I got a terrible spanking when I got home. People just try to lie and make false accusations when they don't get their way. If her parents would make she she was dressed properly for school then the school staff wouldn't have to step in.
1/26/2016 10:55:26 pm
It's about time someone addressed the other side of the story. It is a shame that principal Hodges has been hassled and had his character questioned over something that is utterly ridiculous. I received a couple dress code warnings during my time in the EC school systems, to which my clothing was adjusted and I moved in with my day, at school. It is baffling a situation as benign as this has escalated to this level.
1/27/2016 12:35:01 am
I stand behind Hodges....
Brittany Register Williams
1/27/2016 01:25:34 am
I had Mr.Hodges at Hart co high school he was one of the best teachers you could ever ask for. Not once did he ever try to embarrass you or call you out infront of other classmates or belittle a young lady in anyway. He was always respective towards us. He made us feel wanted at school and if we had trouble no matter the problem he was there for you. This young lady should be proud he corrected her on her clothing that's how young ladies learn to act like young lady not disrespectful little brats. She deserves to be expelled from school and her family and wbko should have to make a public apology for the disgusting was they have pulled his name through the dirt. Respective people are hard to find but Mr. Hodges is the best.. We love you Mr. Hodges we stand behind you 100 %
1/27/2016 08:52:51 am
I commend Mr. Hodges and Mr. Waddle for standing on principal. Looks like a set-up to me, parents showing up without being called, requesting only Mr. Hodges to do the measuring, stay the course Mr. Hodges and Mr. Waddle.
1/27/2016 08:54:28 am
The two men are two of the best men I know. I could list numerous reasons that would verify they are both upstanding people. Patrick Waddell & Tommy Hodges keep up the good work! In education we need people who enforce the rules for the majority of our students and not succumb to the squeaky wheel.
1/27/2016 10:04:21 am
Uniform is not the answer to the problem I saw dress in question so did my wife and father in law , so did my Minster none of us saw that as indecent !!!
1/27/2016 10:28:52 am
I have known Tommy Hodges since he was a child. Both of my children had him in school. You couldn't ask for a better teacher or role model. I stand for Mr. Hodges.
1/27/2016 02:12:08 pm
This is impossible. Thanks for keeping me out of so much trouble Tommy. You're a good man and a lot of people know it. #IstandwithHodges
Laura Webb Thomas
1/27/2016 05:28:23 pm
1/27/2016 11:05:55 pm
I've known Tommy Hodges and his family for several years and have the utmost respect for him. You won't find any better people. Sounds like he's doing the job he was hired to do and doing it the right way. Kids dress very different this day and time, but it starts at home. If some common sense were to be used, this drama could be avoided. Tommy has been at this a long time, and it's my personal opinion that you have picked on the wrong guy. #IstandwithHodges
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