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PTISD Athletic Director, Head Football Coach resigns from school district

Longview News-Journal
The School Yard

POSTED: Friday, October 18, 2013 - 4:27pm

UPDATED: Sunday, October 20, 2013 - 10:11pm

The Pine Tree Independent School District has announced Athletic Director and Head Football Coach, Derek Fitzhenry, has formally resigned from his position at Pine Tree.

The school board president, Charley Peck, announced the separation shortly after 4:20 p.m.

On October 16, Fitzhenry gave Superintendent, Dr. T.J. Farler a letter of resignation saying for "personal reasons," he has decided to resign from the district.

When David Smoak, owner of and Program Director at ESPN Central Texas in Waco, asked Fitzhenry for a comment, he told Smoak the following:

"No comment at this time other than the football team is playing a big game tonight and focus needs to be on them. Good luck to those young men, I wish them the best."

This announcement comes after a season full of controversy stemming from alleged acts concerning Fitzhenry.

Fitzhenry had been accused of pushing a student at a game, for which he was put on paid administrative leave shortly before being reinstated. Three football players, were also arrested in September after school officials caught them with marijuana on school grounds back in June. The three athletes had played in every Pirate football game up until that point. Fitzhenry also admitted to altering the online version of the Pine Tree Athletic Department's handbook which allowed a player charged with sexually assaulting a minor to play in the Pirates' game against Nacogdoches. It was later learned that Superintendent T.J. Farler was unaware of the changes.

Following the publication of the accusation, the athletic director denied wrongdoing and blamed the changes on a "clerical error," which KETK quickly disproved.

The school handbook has since reverted back to its original form.

After taking no action at Monday night's regularly scheduled school board meeting, the district announced, Tuesday, a "special meeting" of the Board of Trustees at Pine Tree Independent School District will be held Friday, in the PTISD Central Office Boardroom, where Fitzhenry, formally gave his resignation to the board.

The board retreated into a closed session for consultation with an attorney regarding a settlement agreement and the resignation of the Athletic Director and head football coach.

The open session began immediately after the closed session ended where there was a discussion and the announcement of the resignation.

The school will pay Fitzhenry $39,024.37 after making legally required deductions, according to the separation agreement.

In the agreement obtained by KETK, the amount will be paid in a lump sum within five days.

The school has agreed to provide a positive job reference for Fitzhenry to his prospective or future employers based on his strengths and accomplishments. This reference will be handled by the current school board president.In making this reference, no negative comments will be made regarding Fitzhenry, including why he was placed on administrative leave and underlying allegations.

The school has also agreed to remove any negative documentation from Fitzhenry's personnel file. They also will not report him nor his resignation to the Texas Education Agency or the State Board for Education Certification.

Offensive coordinator, Derrick Hennigan, will serve as interim Athletic Director and head coach.

Tonight, the Pine Tree Pirates travel to take on their arch rival, The Hallsville Bobcats. The game is set to kick-off at 7:30 p.m.


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