CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — On Monday morning, Clinton High School could look different. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office says it will have a “larger presence than normal” in the high school’s hallways and on campus over threats of a walkout. A social media post from Anderson County Schools states the rumored walkout could be in protest of the bathroom law.
A WATE 6 On Your Side crew sent to the school Monday was turned away and told no media would be allowed on the campus.
“There have been rumors and exaggerated stories circulating social media this weekend which has led to threats of walkouts,” Sheriff Barker stated in a Facebook post shared Sunday. “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.”
The first block of classes begins at 8:40 a.m. Monday.
On Saturday, the school district posted to its Facebook page about the “rumors and misinformation on social media” about an incident and soft lockdown that had occurred at Clinton High School on Friday.
“In an effort to clear all of this up, I am sending out this statement of facts,” Tim Parrott, director of Anderson County Schools, stated in the post dated Oct. 1. “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 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 insure that we keep the entire campus safe.”
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It was unclear as of Monday morning what the alleged incident was that has sparked rumors of a walkout or issues with the school’s adherence to Tennessee’s bathroom law.
In May 2021, Governor Bill Lee signed a transgender “bathroom bill” that requires schools to try to offer single-occupancy or an employee facility for anyone who wants more privacy; the bill specifically bars letting transgender people use multi-person facilities that don’t align with their birth gender.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.