The first-year boys’ basketball head coach of Hamshire-Fannett High School submitted his resignation just a few months into the school year after allegations arose claiming Coach Anthony DeCello had inappropriate contact with a female Hamshire-Fannett student.
DeCello was placed on administrative probation with pay Dec. 2 by principal Jon Burris after a student came forward saying DeCello had “sent her flirtatious text messages, commenting on her appearance and expressing an unprofessional interest in her,” states a letter to the State Board of Educator Certification from H-F ISD Superintendent Pamela Morris.
The Examiner filed a public information request seeking information about DeCello's employment Monday, Dec. 5. The request also asked for copies of any and all documents related to the allegations that had been reported to the newspaper, as well as any disciplinary actions taken against DeCello.
The letter goes on further to state that the information given by the student was confirmed in interviews with a number of other female students. And along with the text messages, the student also said DeCello hugged her and kissed on the cheek on one occasion.
As a part of the administrative probation, DeCello was directed not to have any contact with students and also prohibited from attending any H-F ISD activities.
According to student statements that were obtained by the school district, “Friends saw messages from DeCello on (student)’s phone directly. (Student 2) was taken to DeCello’s house to watch movie’s [sic] with him and (student). I have heard numerous times that DeCello and (student) text and (student) goes to watch movies at his house. Also, I have heard that numerous people heard him call (student) weird names like ‘baby,’ ‘sweet heart,’ etc. Also, he has been known to call other girls these weird names.”
The statement from the accusing student said, “During (redacted) Coach DeCello starting [sic] texting me and I would text him back. At first it was just about (redacted) then it got to be flirty. Such as telling me I’m pretty and that there was just something about me. He said he wanted to kiss me. We talked on the phone a couple of times, just normal stuff like how was your day? What are you doing? And about the (redacted) team. He would text me he was thinking about me [sic]. He would text me inappropriate stuff but I did text back. In 8th period one day, I went into his classroom and we talked. When I went to leave he hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.”
Another student wrote, “(Redacted) called me ‘princess,’ ‘babe,’ ‘sweetheart.’ Called me into his room to ‘talk’ about the (redacted). Messaged me on Facebook. Tried to get my # [sic] from Facebook. Witnessed him do the same thing if not worse to (redacted).”
Another statement reads, “On Oct. 1, after my SAT I met him at Starbucks for about 20 minutes. He texted [sic] me during my SAT and when I finished I texted [sic] him I finished and we met up in Beaumont in the Kroger shopping center around 12:30 – 1ish [sic].”
A final student statement gathered by H-F ISD officials said “He is [sic] made comments on my statuses on Facebook and also messaged me. He would text me sometimes. One time asking me to bring him lunch because he thought I was working the concession stand for the (redacted). Also had to fold and wash his personal clothes.”
As of Sunday, Dec. 11, DeCello submitted his resignation letter to Burris. The letter reads, “I hereby tender to you my resignation, effective immediately, as a teacher/coach with Hamshire-Fannett ISD.
“I have enjoyed my time with H-F ISD, and I am resigning in order to pursue other career opportunities. Thank you. It has been a pleasure working with you.”
Morris accepted his resignation the next day.
The Examiner attempted to contact DeCello several times by phone Friday, Dec. 16. When DeCello finally answered, he told a reporter to call back in 30 minutes. During the follow-up call, as requested by DeCello, the reporter's call went to voicemail. The reporter noted DeCello's voicemail message had now been changed. Instead of, "This is Coach D. Leave a message," the new message did not contain any identifying information and simply stated, "Leave a message."
Further calls went straight to voicemail later that day.