Pine Tree ISD board discussing Coach Fitzhenry situation in clos - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

After meeting for 5 hours, Pine Tree ISD takes no action regarding Athletic Director

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Derek Fitzhenry Derek Fitzhenry
LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) -

After meeting for five hours, Pine Tree ISD decided to take no action on Athletic Director Derek Fithenry.

Another meeting has been scheduled for Monday, October 21st regarding the coach's employment.

Coach Fitzhenry was back in the spotlight after the district says he made unapproved changes to the student athletic handbook.

Coach  Fitzhenry was placed on paid administrative leave earlier this year after allegedly having a physical altercation with a football player. However, the school board decided to conditionally reinstate him.

Now the board is discussing his employment once again, after Fitzhenry told KLTV that he was the one who changed the athletic handbook wording, altering it to allow athletes with pending felony offenses to continue to play sports if they fall within certain guidelines.

Prior to that change, the statement read:

"Students charged with felony offenses will not be permitted to participate in PTHS athletics. Felony convictions will result in a one-year suspension."

The section was changed to read:

"Students charged with felony offenses will not be permitted to participate in PTHS athletics until a formal hearing has taken place or the student has pled innocent. Also if the hearing has not occurred within 5 months, and the student has served all days in DEAP, the AD and coordinators will review the case for reinstatement until a formal hearing takes place. After the formal hearing, the case will be reviewed for participation. Felony convictions will result in a one-year suspension."

Fitzhenry said he made this change to the handbook to account for a slow-moving court system or a student who was fighting charges, but the district said they were unaware of the revisions made in the handbook and changed it back to the original posting that was approved by the district administration.

Fitzhenry said this policy is unfair and hopes to have it changed, but as of now, any Pine Tree High School students who have pending felony charges against them are not being allowed to participate in athletics.

In Monday's school board meeting, two fathers, one a teacher for Pine Tree ISD, said the board needed to do something to stop the negativity surrounding their athletic department.

Todd Guest is a teacher and parent of a Pine Tree ISD student. He said a lot of parents are wanting answers as to what exactly has transpired over the past few weeks.

He said property values are decreasing with every day that something negative happens in the district. He asked who would want to move to this district in light of what is alleged to have occurred?

Guest said he does want the board's fear of making the wrong decision to prevent them from making the right decision.

Another concerned parent to speak at Monday's meeting was Rob Wallin. Wallin said he graduated from Pine Tree ISD and was involved in athletics while there. He said he married a fellow Pine Tree ISD alumni and now has four children who are enrolled in the district.

In the 30 plus years Wallin has lived in the district, he said he has never seen so much turmoil, chaos and negativity. Wallin said he was tired of standing on the sidelines, which is why he spoke at Monday's meeting.

"Our current AD has been accused of many unethical actions that would have landed even the most talented of individuals in the unemployment line with asterisks on his resume," Wallin told said in front of about 100 people in attendance.

"This is an individual who has been chosen to lead our athletes at Pine Tree High School. Is this the kind of leadership we want our young athletes to emulate? Are we really surprised that some of these football players are in trouble with the law right now? How many chances does an individual get to intimidate, to bully, and to manipulate the very people he was hired to develop into a more confident, honorable and productive citizen?" Wallin asked.

Stay with KLTV and KLTV.com for updates.

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