FIRST ON KETK: PTISD reinstates athletic director, head coach

FIRST ON KETK: PTISD reinstates athletic director, head coach

POSTED: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 4:39pm

UPDATED: Saturday, September 21, 2013 - 12:49pm

FITZHENRY: "I am happy that this has been resolved and I can get back to coaching my kids."

Derek Fitzhenry has been reinstated as athletic director and head coach at Pine Tree ISD.

KETK and, broke the story early Tuesday morning, before official word was released by Pine Tree Independent School District officials.

David Smoak, owner of, spoke with Fitzhenry right after he found out he was going to be reinstated:

"I am happy that this has been resolved and I can get back to coaching my kids," said Fitzhenry. "I want to thank everyone including my kids, coaches and my wife who have supported me during this difficult time."

He also told Smoak: 

"I love these kids and the Pine Tree community and I'm excited about getting back to work. I have nothing else to say at this time, I need to focus on doing my job and taking care of the kids and helping them achieve their dreams and goals."

Before breaking the story, one source told Smoak, "I will be shocked if Coach Fitz isn't on the practice field with his team on Tuesday afternoon." While another source was quoted saying, "This was a long night, there was a lot to discuss, and I think we got it right."

The announcement comes the day after the school board and administrators met in a closed session meeting, Monday night, at 5:45 p.m., before the public forum in front of a packed house took place at 6:30 p.m.

KETK's Garrett Sanders was there and after nearly five and a half hours of deliberating publicly and privately Monday night, the Board of Trustees announced Superintendent, T.J. Farler would carry out the board's instructions concerning Fitzhenry's fate, Tuesday.

A public forum took place where a few people, including a member of the Pine Tree football team, spoke out in support of Fitzhenry. A concerned parent, Debbie Garrett, challenged the board to make the "moral" decision, insinuating she was against the coach. She claimed many people are afraid to speak out against Fitzhenry.

KETK broke the story regarding Fitzhenry being placed on paid administrative leave last week after reports surfaced claiming he allegedly pushed a student during the Pine Tree/Van football game, Friday, August 30th.  

In light of Fitzhenry's suspension, Pine Tree offensive coordinator, Derrick Hennigan, served as acting head coach, Friday, September 6th, in Pine Tree's win over Center.

According to the Longview News-Journal, around 50 players and a dozen coaches showed up at Fitzhenry’s house early Saturday morning and presented him with a signed game ball from the Pirates' 64-49 victory.

Senior defensive back, Ladarius Fluellen, said defensive coordinator Barry Bowman came up with the idea to honor Fitzhenry with the game ball if the Pirates defeated Center. Bowman, a Spring Hill High School alum who won three straight state championships at Daingerfield and spent two seasons at Paris before joining the Pirates’ staff in May, was a former college teammate of Fitzhenry’s at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana. Fitzhenry played tight end for LA Tech in the late 1980's, while Bowman was a defensive back for the Bulldogs before becoming a punter and spending one season in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.

Several Fitzhenry supporters from the athletics program were on hand at the meeting displaying signs showing they stood behind their coach.


Fitzhenry left Giddings High School after eight seasons as head coach in 2011. He put up a 72-24 record with the Buffaloes and is 5-16 at Pine Tree in two-plus seasons.

The Pirates (2-0) will take on the Kilgore Bulldogs (1-0), under Fitzhenry's reign, Friday, September 13, at 7:30 p.m., at Pirate Stadium in Longview.

Comments News Comments

Not verybody can play this game and it sounds like your kid needs to play tennis or golf!! Fitz is a fine man and a good coach. Now the decision has been made live with and grow up!!

this is just sad!! this man had no right putting his hands on any student! he also denied a student who had a head injury to be treated but sadly, schools have become more concerned with sports and winning to take proper action on such matters. when did our children and their education become less of a priority??

Yes CPS will investigate but once it is determined that there was no wrong doing then the case will be dismissed as invalid. That is what is wrong with todays society a parent is no longer able to discipline their child without fear of consequences. Let me tell you my parents spanked me and CPS was not even thought of, and the teachers were allowed to discipline their students without fear of facing the loss of their job.

this was NOT a discipline issue!! He was BULLIED by this coach!!
and YES I know this for a FACT......

Respect is also something that is taught at home or atleast my parents taught me. An adult/ teacher can not earn the respect of a child/ student if the child has not been taught what respect is. The values of our children are developed at home.

If you as parent push your own child and that child reports it, you would be arrested and charged with domestic violence and investigated by CPS. Why hasn't CPS not conducted an investigation. They investigate all uses of force by staff in the TYC? SO WHY ISN'T THE CPS NOT INVESTIGATING THIS COACH? IS IT BECAUSE HE IS A COACH OR DO COACHES HAVE MORE RIGHTS THAN PARENTS DO IN THE EYS OF CPS?

I would encourage all students to use the minimum amount of force that is necessary to defend yourselves from any adult that attempts to put their hands on you. You have a right to defend yourselves, H3ll y'all are Americans too and the Texas and U.S. Constitution states that you have a right to defend yourselves. It is obvious that the DA is a coward too or he would have conducted an investigation himself.

respect is something that is earned not automatic. I would bet a months pay check that if that student had defended him/herself that the student would have been arrested and the parents fined. So you that are defending this coach , I ask you, whats the difference in a student pushing the coach and the coach pushing the student? I will tell you the student punished and the coach no punishment because he is an adult and a coach. DOUBLE STANDARD YOU HYPOCRITES.

Unless you were there when this occurred and saw it and heard it with your own eyes and ears you should not be casting judgement on anyone. Teachers and Coaches have to endure alot from students and we as parents. The days of respecting your elders and those in charge have long gone by the wayside. When my generation was in school we were disciplined by our parents and believe me it was not by time out !! We understood the meaning of RESPECT !!!!!

so two people post several comments that paint the decision by the school board as something underhanded and corrupt.

you don't know the whole story, they do. in today's age of lawsuits and video of everything there is no way this coach is getting away with something like what was alleged.

just grow up you big babies. you are the problem, not the coach.

I have no desire to argue with you & I sure will not stoop to calling you any names! However, I bet you would feel different if this had been your child! Also I know several students under his guidance & co-workers of his who have given me my information and this isn't an isolated incident. Sadly they are afraid of retaliation if they speak up so once again the whole story will never be told! I care deeply about this district and the life lessons our young people are being taught!

Sad day when what we care about most is winning football games! This administration has just taught the students at PT that if you're a coach your behavior is held to a different standard than a classroom teacher! Lesson learned- it's ok for an adult (as long as it's a coach) to cuss at you and others and physically mishandle you! God help us!

This is the most disturbing news I have heard all day! This disheartens me and I know alot of our community. I am highly disappointed in the decision to reinstate the AD. I really does not matter what the taxpapers think or say. I am sure this will not be the last time this surfaces. This makes me sick!

if that student was my child and I was there at the time of the incident, the coach would have gotten a taste of his own medicine and then some. No adult has a right to push my child for any reason except in a case where the child is attempting to assault the adult. This case sounds like a simple assault by the coach and is a class A misdemeaner.

This is like a farmer going to the mother fox and saying "I saw one of your pups in my hen house" and the mother fox says " well, I will look into it". We all know what the outcome would be, the same thing happened here.

It has been disheartening to see the excuses of “he’s a coach and this is football” that are being made for Fitzhenry’s actions! I doubt the district will do the right thing and terminate Fitzhenry because football matters more than morals! I will never understand why coaches are allowed to scream and cuss at our kids, humiliate them or grab and shove them while the classroom teachers have to walk a fine line when it comes to handling these same students! Teachers are warned not to touch a stude

student even if he/she is out of control or attacking another student and they sure better not use cuss words while teaching! Coaches are also teachers and in most situations they have a much greater influence on our kids so why do we give them a pass on their behavior??? So sad that parents and administrators will make excuses and defend the Dailey use of these behaviors by a coach but if a classroom teacher accidently lets a cuss word slip out while addressing their student or in some way touc

touches their unruly or disrespectful student in class the teacher will probably at best be written up and in most cases will be fired!! Why do people who profess to be Christians allow anyone who so blatantly acts and talks in an un-Christian manner to have so much influence on their kids?? Do you not see the mix messages you are sending?? We should be teaching kids to be respectful, that integrity matters and placing a much higher value on our teachers who truly make a difference!!! We should

We should also be showing them that there is consequences to our actions NO matter who or what you are and that winning a sport should NEVER be more important than doing the right thing and having integrity!!!

this is why the parents should follow the law and report it to the right authorities which would be law enforcement so that a proper investigation by an un biased institution can be conducted and not by the school. That is their rights and the students rights under the law.

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