Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

The director of schools for Hardin County said that in the future they would not allow political T-shirts featuring the name of an embattled lawmaker to be passed out to students.

Michael Davis, Director of Schools for Hardin County, wrote in an email to the News4 I-Team that he was unaware that T-shirts featuring the name of Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, had been placed on a table at Hardin County High School in Savannah, TN, for seniors to pick up.

Hardin County is part of Byrd’s legislative district.

State Rep. David Byrd

State Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro (Photo: Tennessee General Assembly)

Byrd is accused by three of his former students of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers and he was their basketball coach at Wayne County High School in Waynesboro.

Governor Bill Lee said in an interview with reporters on Friday that he believes Byrd needs to explain what happened.

“I’ve said that he should answer those allegations and we’ll see if he does,” said Lee, adding that he found one of Byrd’s accusers credible.

The T-shirts bearing Byrd’s name are exactly like the ones that were given to students at Wayne County High School last October for students to wear on a trip to the Capitol.

A student then sued Byrd, claiming it was unconstitutional for students to have to wear political T-shirts on a school trip.

The controversy was part of the reason that on Thursday Kristina Richardson was surprised when her daughter came home with one of the T-shirts that had been given to her as a senior at Hardin County High School.

“I feel like it’s really, really, really inappropriate,” said Richardson.

In an email to the I-Team, Davis wrote, “I wasn’t aware the shirts were going out yesterday, but in speaking to Mr. (William) McAdams (the high school principal) about this after the fact, he advised me the shirts were placed on a table in the cafeteria and anyone wanting one could get on their own. After further discussion on this matter, it has been determined that this won’t be an option moving forward.”

The school confirmed that the T-shirts were left over from last year when Byrd donated them for the students’ trip to the Capitol, but the students did not go.

Byrd has yet to reply to requested attempts by the News4 I-Team to answer questions about anything uncovered.

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