Both the Scott County School System and the Oneida Special School District will dismiss classes at noon Friday in observance of the funeral service for Scott County Sheriff Mike Cross, both systems' directors announced Tuesday. The funeral service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at White Rock Baptist Church in Huntsville.

"Sheriff Cross was a true friend to our school system and brought dignity and respect to his office," Scott County Director of Schools Bill Hall said in announcing that the county school system would dismiss early out of respect for the funeral service.

Oneida Special School District Director of Schools Ann Sexton said that Cross never failed to go to bat for children.

"Mike Cross was a man who did what he said he would do and cared about people, especially children," Sexton said. "He directly assisted me with truancy cases and was always willing to spend time working with families when their children were not in school. We had many conversations, which were always about dire situations in which our children lived, and I could always see the frustration and sadness that we shared in his eyes."

Cross's move from police chief in Oneida to county sheriff in the 2010 election only broadened the number of families and students he had to be conflicted over, Sexton said.

"Our last conversation was about the fact that we cannot legislate parents to live a drug-free life and rear and nurture children in that environment," she said. "Our only hope is for the Lord to intervene in these situations, and he put his words into action by organizing the county-wide prayer meetings.

"Mike was an ally of the school systems in this county and realized how our problems were community problems and required mobilization from all county entities and divine guidance from above," she added. "We cannot let his vision die or let his dreams fade."

Visitation is set for Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at White Rock Baptist Church.

Friday's funeral will be officiated by White Rock pastor Jim West and Carlie Duncan, with interment to follow in Fairview Memorial Gardens.