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No action concerning PT coach at board meeting, superintendent to make decision Tuesday

No action concerning PT coach at board meeting, superintendent to make decision Tuesday

POSTED: Monday, September 9, 2013 - 11:02pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 12:25pm

According to the Pine Tree Independent School District, a decision concerning Athletic Director and head football coach Derek Fitzhenry, has not been made.

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.

The board took a 10 minute break at 7:45 p.m., before meeting in private to deliberate, again. The regular business meetings of the Board of Trustees are open to the public and are usually scheduled for 6:30 p.m., on the second Monday of each month. Being as this meeting included a special session concerning personnel, the meeting began earlier than usual. The board stayed in the second executive session until 11:05 p.m., before adjourning and announcing PTISD Superintendent, T.J. Farler will 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), Friday, September 13, at 7:30 p.m., at Pirate Stadium in Longview.

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