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County school board member will not resign after arrest

Nathan Baker • Mar 25, 2019 at 7:47 PM

Washington County Board of Education member David Hammond, arrested last week and charged with simple assault, does not plan to resign his seat, and his fellow board members are keeping their opinions on the matter to themselves.

Police served Hammond, 50, with an arrest warrant Friday after his girlfriend showed officers bruises on her arms and torso and told them Hammond grabbed her and pushed her two days earlier.

On Monday, Hammond pleaded not guilty to the charges in Washington County General Sessions Court and was scheduled to return on April 22.

Reached by phone after his arraignment, Hammond maintained his innocence and said will not resign from his elected seat.

“I have been encouraged to stay,” he said, noting the constituents, school board members and county commissioners who called him with their support after his arrest. “I have a stellar voting record, and I see no reason to resign.”

Hammond was previously charged with domestic assault in a 2015 case involving his wife at the time, but the charge was dismissed.

Then in his second term, Hammond decided not to step down after his arrest. Voters re-elected him to his third term in August.

Board of Education Chairman Keith Ervin said the alleged incident happened off school grounds, not during Hammond’s service to the board. The court case is currently none of the board’s business, he said.

“I’m not going to be his jury,” Ervin said. “The way I feel about it, you’re innocent until proven guilty, if he is found guilty, then it might be different story. Right now, I don’t have an opinion.”

“There’s no action to take,” school board member Phil McLain said.

McLain, going into his 15th year on the board, said he previously researched the power of a board to remove one of its members, and there’s not much the board can do.

State law gives the board’s Ethics Committee the power to censure a member with a public reprimand or to refer the issue to a district attorney to begin ouster proceedings. Voters may also recall an elected official through a petition and new election.

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