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EXCLUSIVE: KETK obtains recording criticizing PTISD superintendent at private meeting

The School Yard

POSTED: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 4:19pm

UPDATED: Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 11:34am

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.

Comments News Comments

I can honestly say that Mr. Hutchinson cares about more than just sports. While I was in high school he payed for my tutor so that I could pass the Act and go to college. He gives his time and money to those in need in the district. If everyone wants to throw stones pick up one and throw it at yourself. What have any of you done to help the district? My guess is nothing. When is the last time any of you volunteered at the school, or put on a fundraiser? Probably never.

Why don't you some of you speak with Mr. Peck instead of throwing insults his way? Mr. Hutchinson has donated many thousands of dollars to the school district in all phases of education not just football.

Peck is correct that athletics keeps some of these kids in school which is a much better alternative than dropping out. You might want to find out how many kids at PT are in dire situations financially and with family structure. The breakfast at PT can be their only meal of the day.

Sure wish that KETK would post a copy of the audio of the meeting so we all could hear it first hand.

Just shows what I have said for a long time, that schools put more effort in sports than education. They would rather have a million dollar stadium and the #1 team as opposed to educating kids and providing the resources to do it with. There is more money in sports than education and it shows when you have a high school graduate that can't count back change from a twenty dollar bill, something a kid in 7th grade back in the 60's could do easily.

Now we see what the problem is at Pine Tree. We see why the coach felt he could change the policy online and play the ineligible student - The problem is Peck - Peck does not understand "pecking order" he does not know the duties of a school board member - he has done tremendous damage to the Pine Tree school district.

Hey Peck...the kids are plenty busy sexually assaulting young girls and smoking weed in the school parking lot. Yeah..I feel real sorry for them!

who was the next speaker?

who was the unnamed next speaker?

Sounds like a meeting of some of the Texas 'good 'ol boys'. They ALL need to go, and be replaced ASAP. I don't buy the 'explanation' given by Peck after the fact. He said exactly what he wanted to say at the meeting. Only now that it has gone public, he wants to change the wording to make things seem better. BS is what I SAY!

Well the boys have gotten caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Everyone in the district knows that they formed the PAC committee for financial and political gains. Ron Hutchinson's company was given almost a million dollar contract for the last bond to do work so that was his and as for the others just wanted to belong to his group except Peck who got on board for political support and money. All of these guys are there because of Ron's financial support and power.

Really think Ketk should stay on this story for the sake of the district. We don't need this kind of support from these kind of people. The are the ones that partially got us in to all this mess!

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