Friday Night Lights School Rocked by Teacher Suicide, Sex Scandal
Permian High teacher Mark Lampman, who shot himself, was the fifth teacher accused of inappropriate conduct
The body was found by oil workers on Wednesday afternoon in a field in West Odessa, Texas. Sheriff’s deputies responding to the “possible unattended death” came uppon a middle-aged white man with a gunshot wound to the chest.
By day’s end, students and staff at one of the most famous high schools in the country were reeling from the devastating loss of one of their own – and struggling to cope with a spiraling scandal.
Mark Lampman, 47, a married father of two who taught social studies and coached golf at Permian High School – the football powerhouse that inspired the book, TV show and movie Friday Night Lights – shot himself to death after he was accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student.
Lampman, whose body was found one day after administrators questioned him and he resigned, had become the fifth Permian staffer to face such allegations. Two have been indicted, one resigned amid an ongoing investigation and another was cleared and the complaint dropped.
After Lampman’s death, Twitter erupted with some students defending the teacher and lashing out at another student, prompting the district to call for calm.
“There is shock and anger and frustration and confusion,” Mike Adkins, spokesman for the Ector County Independent School District, tells PEOPLE. “It’s such intense emotion. There is a lot of healing that needs to take place.”
It’s been made all the more difficult by the intense media attention because of the Friday Night Lights connection.
“We’re not a real, real small town, but we’re very tight-knit,” says Lindsay Weaver, education reporter for the Odessa American, who has been covering the story. “It’s something that no town ever wants to be famous, or infamous, for.”
Crisis counselors have been called in for students and teachers, a prayer walk was scheduled for Monday, and this week Superintendent Tom Crowe addressed the faculty.
“I told them, we believe in you. We support you, the board supports you,” he tells the Odessa American. “What you do, 99.9 percent are in it for the right reasons.”