EXCLUSIVE: KETK obtains recording criticizing PTISD superintendent at private meeting
POSTED: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 5:19pm
UPDATED: Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 12:34pm
Tyler, Texas (KETK) —
Over the past three months, the Pine Tree Independent School District has been the subject of much controversy involving the Athletic Department, whose director recently resigned amidst scandal.
KETK has been provided with an exclusive recording of a meeting involving former Pine Tree Athletic Director and head coach Derek Fitzhenry, PAC members and the school board president to see which of his staff members were supporting him.
Athletic Department staff members held a private meeting after Fitzhenry's reinstatement September 10. Fitzhenry had been placed on administrative leave for allegedly pushing a student during the Pine Tree home opener against Van. He later resigned for what he told Dr. T.J. Farler, Superintendent of Pine Tree Schools, were "personal reasons," after KETK broke the story that Fitzhenry made changes to the athletic policy that allowed a player charged with a felony to participate in PTISD athletics.
At the meeting held in September, the recording reveals Charley Peck, PTISD School Board president, Ron Hutchison and Chris Jones who are members of the Pine Tree Political Action Committee, "Move Pine Tree Forward," were in attendance as well. The PAC also has a Facebook page and campaigned for Peck when he was running for PTISD board re-election.
Photo from Move Pine Tree Forward Facebook.
Hutchison, Peck, Jones and Fitzhenry were the ones who led the meeting and spoke to the athletic department staff prior to dinner being served.
In the recording, student-athlete matters are discussed, including the "Game Changers" program. The recording also claims the PAC members appreciate the coaches standing up for Fitzhenry.
Jones, speaking to the room of coaches said, this is about "you (Fitzhenry)," and we are here to support you.
"We have spent a lot of money on Pine Tree Athletics, thank you , thank you, thank you for being here to support Coach Fitz.," said Jones.
Next, Board President Peck stepped up to speak, "These kids have no reason to get up to behave in the classroom or make their grades, except to get on the field, if that's what it takes that's fine."
Peck reached out to KETK after learning the tape was released to clarify the statement he made in the recording:
"It's hard for kids to concentrate on algebra if they're hungry, and it's hard for kids to concentrate on English when they don't know where they're spending the night. We need to provide things to encourage these kids to be on task and finish their education, that's what we need to concentrate on."
Peck also added, "Whatever the other people said, that's their first amendment right."
Hutchison had a lot to say about Superintendent Farler:
"You know, If I was running things, I'd say it different, but since the president of the school board is here (laughs). We've had a great deal of distraction over the last couple of weeks and you guys know, great competitors overcome great obstacles, and this can really be a fairytale story that we see here. But, I'm going to chalk everything up to the superintendent as being unprofessional and inexperienced as a new superintendent and if she ever does anything like this again (Fitzhenry's suspension), she's none of those things, she's just stupid. And you don't have to clap."
KETK reached out to Farler on Tuesday when we were given the recording and she was unable to comment due to it being a personnel matter concerning herself.
A special meeting has been called for Monday, November 3 at 6:00 p.m., concerning Farler's evaluation. The meeting was regularly scheduled for October, but due to the controversy surrounding Fitzhenry, it was pushed back to November.