Marion Co. coach/teacher charged with vandalizing school
JASPER, TN (WRCB) - A local high school coach and teacher was arrested, charged with vandalizing his own school.
Investigators say Marion County High School Assistant Football Coach Michael Schmitt is responsible for painting crude graffiti on his school's field house the day of their big game against rival South Pittsburg. The vandalism was discovered as the sun came on November 1. Obscenities were spray painted on the walls of the field house, in their rival team, South Pittsburg's colors and with the letter 'P', leaving many pointing the blame at students or fans of the Pirates for the last week and a half.
"We here at South Pittsburg have pride and don't want to be involved in that," Pirates fan Denise Kelley said.
Officers arrested Coach Schmitt Wednesday, charging him with vandalism $1,000 - $10,000.
"It's very unfortunate if it comes out to be a factual case against Mr. Schmitt. Very unfortunate for students to act that way, much less adults," Marion County Schools Superintendent Mark Griffith said.
Griffith placed Schmitt on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. He says officials at both Marion County and South Pittsburg high schools are trying to calm students down from the shocking news.
"Unfortunately I feel the South Pittsburg student body and the Marion County student body have been affected by this," Griffith said.
It's all the buzz among fans both sides of the county, too.
"We were sickened and saddened for the whole community because he's supposed to be a leader and what example is he setting," Kelley said.
"I do understand the constitution extends certain rights to individuals-- innocent until proven guilty so we have to extend that right to Mr. Schmitt," Griffith said.
Michael Schmitt is also a teacher and the baseball coach at Marion County High School. He was released from jail on a $2,500 bond earlier in the day. Investigators have not said if there are any other suspects in the vandalism case at this time.