H.S. coach charged with assault

A New York high school football coach was relieved of his duties after he was arrested Monday following an alleged physical altercation with a 15-year-old student.

Duffman Pannell, the head coach at Ramapo High School, faces charges of felony second-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child after allegedly striking junior Brandon Girault in the head with a helmet at practice.

LoHud.com cited a felony complaint that states Pannell allegedly swung a helmet in “an upward motion and purposely [struck Girault] in the head, causing considerable pain, swelling and bleeding above his left eye.”

According to WABC in New York, Girault told his mother that he was “grabbed by his helmet, dragged along the ground and kicked by the coach.” Then Pannell hit Girault with the helmet, according to the station.

A photo on the WABC website shows Girault with a cut above his left eye, as well as some swelling in the area of the gash. The report also states that Girault was diagnosed with a concussion.

As for Pannell, he was released Monday without bail and was set to appear in court Tuesday. The 43-year-old has not been fired from his job as a social studies teacher at the school, according to LoHud.com, but district Superintendent Joel Klein told the site that Pannell will not be permitted to teach or coach while the investigation continues.

“Right now we have to find out exactly what’s going on by speaking to the witnesses,” Klein said. “The whole team was there so it could be a lengthy process. Witnesses sometimes see things differently.”

Before this year, Pannell served as Ramapo’s athletic coordinator, but stepped down to take the head football coaching job. There were concerns that the school’s football program could be eliminated over school district budget concerns, but Pannell still held summer workouts, even when there was no guarantee he would have a team to coach this fall.

“He’s working hard already,” district athletic director Bill Pilla told LoHud.com in July. “He could be a consistent face for the football program. He is a good role model for our kids.”

Ramapo’s football team is 4-3 on the season heading into Friday’s game against White Plains. The Gryphons’ defensive coordinator, Kevin Bullock, will coach the rest of the season in place of Pannell.