Former Edna athletic director and head football coach Jerry Long was arrested Friday morning on suspicion of an improper relationship between an educator and a student.
Jackson County Sheriff A.J. Louderback said Long was arrested and booked into the Jackson County Jail, where he was later released after he posted a $50,000 bond.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office began a criminal investigation earlier this week after they received a report related to Long having inappropriate messaging with a female student. Long resigned his position Monday.
Phone calls to Long to seek comment about the allegation were not returned Friday.
Louderback said the case involves one female high school student.
The case will be presented to a grand jury next, Louderback said.
Friday afternoon, the Edna school district shared a statement on its Facebook page about the arrest and charges.
Officials said the district has cooperated with local law enforcement during the investigation and has reported the incident to the Texas Education Agency.
The statement from the district also said officials were thankful the matter was quickly brought to light and handled.
“We trust the judicial system to handle the case in a proper manner,” the statement read.
A specially called meeting of the Edna school board of trustees is scheduled at 6 p.m. Wednesday to review personnel recommendations for a new athletic director.
One Edna resident said Friday the situation has split the small town in two, with some in support of Long and others in support of the victim. Jemarka Walker, whose children have already graduated from Edna school district, said he did not like the way the situation was handled by the district.
He pointed to a tweet by Edna superintendent Robert O’Connor on Monday, in which O’Connor tweeted: “Rumors and gossip is the root of any organization’s downfall. When problems arise-circle the wagons and grab the rope and pull in a positive direction. Shut your mouth and get to work! It is time to Cowboy Up!”
A few days later, O’Connor followed up the tweet with a statement, tweeting: “Been some chatter about shut your mouth and that it was intended to silence. Those IN the Family know what it means and those that are not is who it is intended for. Talk and rumor spreading is cheap and detrimental. The post says what it means and Cowboy Family will be Strong!”
The statement from the school district also said O’Connor’s intent was to “simply encourage the community not to engage in the rumor mill and gossip.”
“I feel stunned by that,” Walker said, who has young relatives who attend Edna schools. “As a parent, you have to be able to protect our children – and Mr. Long will have his day in court – but I don’t like how the district handled it all.”
Long led the Cowboys to a share of District 14-3A, Division I championship last season and into the quarterfinals. The Cowboys went 12-2 last season and 20-7 during Long’s tenure.
He was previously the head coach at Woodsboro, East Bernard and Corpus Christi Carroll.
Long has an overall record of 119-42, and led East Bernard to the Class 2A, Division II state championship in 2012.