WFHS Coach Carl Pennington Fired Despite Public Support
Monday, the WFISD School Board held an open meeting, allowing the public to address the board about the "nonrenewal" letter Wichita Falls High School Coach Carl Pennington received last week, ending his employment with the WFISD.
Despite large support from parents, students, and fellow WFISD employees, the board decided to not overturn Pennington's dismissal by a vote of 5 to 1, with board President Rev. Reginald Blow casting the only vote in Pennington's favor and board member Kirk Wolfe abstaining from the vote.
Instead of the customary five minutes allowed to address the school board, speakers were only give three minutes to speak, several, including Pennington himself, being cut off in mid-sentence. Among those who spoke in Pennington's defense was Midwestern State University student Landry Russell who said that Pennington would "go to the ends of the earth to help you out," and that Pennington is of such a high moral character that it’s a shock that his employment would even be at risk. WFHS teacher Dan Patrick also spoke about Pennington's relationship with the students,
"Carl has great relationships with kids that it's not easy to get good relationships with," he said. "In the hallway, every kid knows Carl and loves Carl. He probably knows more kids than I do, and I'm there every day, all day."
Though Pennington has received offers to coach elsewhere, he wanted to stay with WFISD to remain close to friends and family. Pennington also noted that he's shocked about his nonrenewal notice because he still has not been given a reason for his termination. Pennington was cut off mid-sentence when the three minute timer went off, and returned to his seat to applause from the public on hand.
Two years ago, the WFISD school board renewed Pennington's contract "with reservations" and gave Pennington an improvement plan along with his contract extension. During this year, Pennington served a three-game suspension after being ejected from the Burkburnett Tournament, and a star player missed ten games due to disciplinary action. Despite that, the Coyotes made it to the playoffs for the second year in a row. Whether those incidents are the reason for Pennington's dismissal remains to be seen, but two of those who spoke to board acted as though it was. Times Record News Sports Editor Nick Gholson reminded the board that Pennington had made mistakes, but Jesus once silenced a vengeful stoning mob by saying that only he who is without sin may cast the first stone. An Air Force officer also spoke in support of Pennington, saying that if he had been judged on single mistakes and not his overall worth to the mission, he never would have made it past Captain.