Soft lockdown spurs social media storm, school leaders respond

Clinton High School was placed on a soft lockdown Friday morning following reports of planned student walkout. The lockdown sparked a flurry of social media activity, leading Director of Schools Dr. Tim Parrott over the weekend to issue what he called a “statement of facts” to clear up “rumors and misinformation.”

According to a message posted to the Anderson County Schools’ social media pages on Saturday, Dr. Parrott says that Clinton High School Principal Dan Jenkins and his staff had heard rumors of a “potential walkout related to an incident that happen at the beginning of the school year involving a student’s restroom usage and their alleged activities in the restroom.” In his message, Dr. Parrott stated that the incident in question was “thoroughly” investigated by school officials and ultimately determined that “no student was assaulted.”

School officials said that the soft lockdown—which limits the number of students in the hallways while still being able to maintain regularly scheduled class changes—was implemented Friday morning “for the safety of all students,” and lifted at 10:45 am.

The release states that Clinton High School, and all Anderson County schools, operate under a state law requiring students to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth. Parrott’s message indicates that Clinton High offers a single-stall restroom for students who are uncomfortable using a bathroom with other people, for whatever reason. The walkout, according to officials, was to be done in protest of the so-called “bathroom law.”

Sunday, Sheriff Russell Barker announced that extra deputies would be on-campus and in the hallways at CHS today (Monday, Oct. 3rd) “to ensure every child is safe but is acting responsibly and not disrupting school.”

As of the time this report was filed late Monday morning, there had been no reports of any disturbances at the school.

In May 2021, Governor Bill Lee signed the “bathroom bill” requiring schools to try to offer single-occupancy option for anyone who wants one, while specifically prohibiting transgender people from using multi-person restroom facilities that don’t align with their birth gender.

You can read both Dr. Parrott and Sheriff Barker’s statements below.

(Social media message from Dr. Tim Parrott) Clinton High School Parents —
There are a lot of rumors and misinformation on social media about what took place at Clinton High School yesterday. In an effort to clear all of this up, I am sending out this statement of facts. Mr. Jenkins, principal at Clinton High School and staff had heard rumors of a potential walkout related to an incident that happen at the beginning of the school year involving a student’s restroom usage and their alleged activities in the restroom.  The incident was investigated thoroughly, and no student was assaulted. Anderson County Schools is required to follow Tennessee state law that requires students to use the bathroom of their gender at birth. For students who do not feel comfortable using a restroom with others, Clinton High School offers a single bathroom available for any student to use.
Mr. Jenkins called me early Friday morning and informed me about rumors of a walkout in protest of the bathroom law and said as a precaution, and for the safety of all students, he was going to put the school into a soft lockdown drill. A soft lockdown limits the number of students in the hallways while still being able to maintain regularly scheduled class changes. The soft lockdown lasted the first block from 8:30 am to 10:45 am. Teachers at no time were instructed to take up cell phones.
The safety of the students and staff is our first priority, and we work hard every day to keep all of our schools safe. Any time a student comes to an administrator with a concern it is taken seriously and investigated. When incidents happen like this, there are always those who like to stir the pot and keep the rumors swirling. If any parent has a concern and/or information about any problems or a potential situation that might put our students and staff at risk, please email me at: tparrott@acs.ac and include your phone number and I personally will call you back. Every school day we have SROs on campus at Clinton High School and whenever an incident like this happens, we work closely with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department to ensure that we keep the entire campus safe.
Tim Parrott Ed.D.

(Statement from Anderson County Sheriff Russell Barker) At the request of Clinton High School administrators, my office will have a larger presence than normal tomorrow morning in the hallways and on campus. There have been rumors and exaggerated stories circulating social media this weekend which has led to threats of walkouts. We will be on campus to ensure every child is safe but is acting responsibly and not disrupting school.  School is designed to be a safe environment to educate our students. Any behavior that threatens that will not be tolerated.
-Sheriff Barker

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:30 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, and cats Oliver, Bow and Libby.

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