DESOTO - DeSoto ISD's school board is split on the future of head football coach Todd Peterman, as a school board vote looms, but multiple UIL violations are allegedly at the heart of the matter.
Peterman led DeSoto to the first state championship in school history in December, as the Eagles posted a 16-0 record and won the 6A Division II title. Despite his success, Peterman's job is in jeopardy -- but the reasons for that have been hotly debated since news broke of his possible ouster on Monday afternoon.
One member of the current school board confirms the board is looking into multiple potential UIL violations, as they review Peterman's status. Those potential violations include but are not limited to recruiting violations, a violation of the UIL's eight-hour weekly limit on practice time, and the use of chewing tobacco on the sideline.
Peterman admits to the use of chewing tobacco but maintains it was a one-time occurrence, and he says that "behavior was corrected." However, he says he has "never recruited or been accused of recruiting," and also says he "never [has] broken the 8-hour rule".
WFAA filed an open records request with the UIL for any information pertaining to Peterman, or potential UIL violations. One document was provided -- a handwritten note from an anonymous person, complaining of recruiting, changing of players grades, and Peterman allowing players he's trying to recruit to stay at his house. The handwritten, anonymous letter came into the UIL just days before DeSoto played for the state championship last December.
A school board member says he knows nothing of Peterman having players staying at his home. Another member of the school board feels the entire "storm concerning Coach Peterman's contract" is merely "a way to try to influence" the coming school board election.
Jerry Hall is a three-year member of the DeSoto ISD board. In a Facebook post earlier this week, Hall's post has since been deleted. Hall says former board members are "posting about something they should know nothing about." He says the "former trustees know what laws and rules we are dealing with employees and cannot discuss anything about what might be going on."
There have been many who have put forth the theory that this review is racially motivated. DeSoto is a predominantly African-American town (78.2% of students). Peterman is white. Four of the seven board members are black.
Hall has his own history with racially motivated comments pertaining to who Desoto ISD hires. In 2016, Hall called for the school district to hire "more white teachers".
DeSoto ISD Superintendent David C. Harris released a statement on Friday, saying in part that "I support the Board’s decision to delay action on personnel contracts, and I support the Board in its effort to make sound personnel decisions based on available information."
"Our Trustees are continually faced with making tough decisions and Monday night was no exception. While most of the community discussion has been centered on one individual, the Board was tasked with considering all personnel contracts. Delaying contract action has allowed DeSoto ISD Administration the opportunity to address questions and concerns that have come to the district’s attention regarding some personnel related matters. Since Monday night, Administration has engaged in a review of those questions and concerns, and they have been resolved."
The school board election is set for May 6 and early voting has been ongoing. The next board meeting is scheduled for May 8. All seven board members that are elected for the next term will have to be sworn in after their election. Any new members will not be a part of the May 8 meeting. The swearing in will happen later in May.
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