Former Gilbert High School football coach Daniel Dunn has been placed on administrative leave from his teaching position pending an investigation into his arrest on suspicion of assaulting a student at the school on April 17.
Dunn, who resigned last year from his coaching position but still teaches math, slapped a 15-year-old boy in the face with the back of his hand during class, police said. At the time, Dunn was yelling at another student about bad behavior, and the student who eventually was struck had begun to laugh, the police report said.
Dunn, 67, has been at Gilbert High since 2009, but had worked there from 1971 to 1980, a district spokeswoman said.
Gilbert police Officer Dave Rich, who investigated the case, said the victim told him that Dunn was standing next to the victim’s desk while Dunn was arguing with the other boy.
The victim said he started to laugh, and that Dunn slapped him and said, “I told you to shut up, dammit.” The officer found no sign of injury on the boy’s face.
The victim said when he was struck, his hat flew off, landing on the floor about 10 feet away. He also said he picked up his hat and moved to the back of the room, and after class, reported the incident to the school office.
For his part, Dunn told the officer he had been correcting the other boy’s behavior when the victim began to stand up, “hootin’ and hollerin,’ ” according to a police report. Dunn said he reached over to motion the victim to sit down when his hand hit the victim’s hat, the report said.
“Dunn advised he was motioning with his right hand, and he was not sure where he struck (the victim),” the report said.
The Republic is withholding the names of the boys involved in the alleged incident and the student-witnesses because they are minors.
Students in the class gave varying accounts of whether they thought Dunn was intentionally trying to hit the victim in the face.
One student told the officer that Dunn appeared to be angry.
That witness “stated she could see Dunn’s face was red during the incident,” the report said, stating the witness reported that Dunn appeared to become more angry when the victim began laughing.
Another student said she saw Dunn tell the other boy “to stop messing around in class,” but that the boy continued to act up, and Dunn began to yell at him, according to the report.
Another student told police she heard Dunn tell the victim to “shut your damn mouth,” according to the report.
The report said that one student told police the victim “is really disrespectful in class” and that the victim “had smoked in the class before and she could understand why Mr. Dunn would get mad,” the report said.
Police arrested Dunn and forwarded the report to town prosecutor Lynn Arouh, who said Thursday her office would decide within a couple of weeks whether to pursue the case.
“I don’t know if we will charge it at this point,” she said.
In the event Dunn is found guilty, punishment options vary.
“There is a broad range of penalties from nothing at all to more harsh penalties,” Arouh said. “There’s always the possibility of jail, or no jail whatsoever. It depends on the case.”
At this point, the assault possibilities are misdemeanors. If the case was considered a felony, it would be sent to the County Attorney’s Office.
Dunn did not immediately return a voice-mail message left at his home.
Dunn took the job as Gilbert High coach after Jesse Parker resigned after the 2008 season.
Dunn, who was a lineman at Arizona State University in the mid-1960s, has also coached at Mesa Community College, Mesa Red Mountain and Payson High School.
The coach has had tragedies in his life.
In 1982, his 7-year-old daughter, Laura, rode off on her bicycle to look for her missing cat and never returned. When her body was found, authorities determined she had been sexually molested and strangled.
Kevin Scott Roscoe, 19, was found guilty of murder, kidnapping and child molestation in her slaying. He committed suicide in prison in 1997.
In 1984, Dunn’s wife, Pat, gave birth to a son, but Pat’s heart failed. She suffered brain damage and slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. She died in 1989 at the age of 42.