After a 5 1/2-hour Monday night school board meeting and all day Tuesday waiting for a decision, Pine Tree ISD issued a press release that announced the "conditional reinstatement" of athletic director and football coach Derek Fitzhenry. reported the reinstatement Tuesday morning, while the Longview News-Journal reported it Tuesday afternoon just before the school district issued its official press release on the situation at 3:59 p.m.

Fitzhenry, who is in his third year as PT's head football coach and AD, has been on administrative leave since Sept. 5 after reports surfaced that he allegedly shoved a student trainer at halftime of the Pirates’ season-opening 42-38 home win against Van on Aug. 30

Pine Tree ISD's press release stated the following:

The Pine Tree ISD board of trustees met in regular session Monday, September 9, 2013. After deliberating over three hours in closed session, trustees supported action for Superintendent T.J. Farler to carry out a conditional reinstatement of coach Derek Fitzhenry as athletic director and head football coach.

The conditions for the reinstatement were not disclosed, because the school district is legally and ethically bound not to provide any details regarding personnel issues.  Any statements made regarding the issues from unofficial sources are merely speculation and rumor.

The process of handling situations regarding a student or employee are always protected by law for the safety and respect of all involved.


The PTISD board deliberated twice in executive sessions at Monday night's regularly-scheduled meeting, which started at 5:45 p.m. and ended around 11:15. The second executive session stretched from about 7:45 to 11:10.

A large crowd was split relatively evenly in support of and against Fitzhenry's reinstatement. Two people -- Cindy Russell and senior football player Bryndin Hartman -- spoke in support of Fitzhenry. One person -- Gregg County Assistant District Attorney Debbie Garrett -- spoke in opposition.

More information from Monday's board meeting, including quotes from the three people spoke in public forum, can be found by clicking here.

Pine Tree is 2-0 after last week's 64-49 win at Center, a game that saw offensive coordinator Derrick Henningan fill the role of acting head coach. The two wins match PT's 2012 win total (2-7). Pine Tree is 5-16 since Fitzhenry's arrival in 2011, when the Pirates had their third consecutive 1-9 season.