By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
An altercation on a Houston school parking lot last week prompted the district to suspend two employees for two weeks Monday morning and a man to be charged with simple assault.
According to Dr. Steve Coker, Houston School Superintendent, the incident involved a coach, a female school employee and another man.
David Clint Earnest, 36, of Woodland, was booked into the Chickasaw County Jail for simple assault by Houston Police Officer Linda Griffin. Earnest was released Friday morning, Jan. 20, on a $5,000 appearance bond.
A court affidavit obtained by the Chickasaw Journal under the Freedom of Information Act listed Houston head football coach Donnie Rogers as the victim of the assault.
Houston Town Marshal Billy Voyles said the simple assault charge was filed by police after Earnest allegedly confronted Rogers in the parking lot and struck the coach in the face as he was seated in his vehicle.
Voyles said the charges could be enhanced because the victim was a teacher and the incident occurred on school grounds.
Simple assault of a teacher is a felony. Voyles said the case would probably be presented to the next term of Chickasaw County grand jury. Earnest is slated to make an initial appearance in Chickasaw County Justice Court on Feb. 12.
Neither Coker nor Voyles would release the name of the other school employee involved in Friday’s dispute.
“Both of our employees have been placed on administrative leave for two weeks, without pay and placed on probation for one year,” said Coker. “They will also be required to attend professional improvement, a tool we use to direct employees whose attitude or conduct needs to be improved.”
Coker said the school board will not be presented with details of the investigation. He added this is the highest level of discipline that can be invoked prior to a formal disciplinary hearing before the school board for possible termination.
“We hope this sends a message to the district that this conduct will not be tolerated,” said Coker. “We expect a high level of integrity out of our employees. We realize no one is perfect, but there are consequences for poor choices.”
Coker said the incident occurred about 8 a.m. Friday morning. Coker said no students were involved in the altercation and students were never in any danger.
Voyles said police responded to a call from 911 and both parties had separated when officers arrived. Voyles said the incident occurred on the parking lot west of Houston High School adjacent to the Central Office building
“The alleged assailant turned himself in here at the police department later that morning,” said Voyles. “Reports and rumors of a gun being involved don’t appear to be true.”