- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, Pa. (AP) - A high school football coach facing criminal charges for allegedly shoving a student who passed gas in the coach’s classroom is receiving support from coaches in neighboring districts and others.

Forty-five-year-old Michael Smith remains suspended and cited for harassment and criminal mischief for the March 25 incident at Juniata Valley High School.

That’s where state police say Smith pushed a student into a wall, breaking a thermostat.

Superintendent David Christopher says, “It’s a really difficult situation here. You’ve got a longtime teacher who’s accused of something pretty serious.”

Smith isn’t commenting, but more than 300 people have signed an online petition supporting Smith.

They include Bellwood-Antis softball coach Jim Payne who wrote, “I guess the elephant in the room is, ‘What would you do if a kid (passed gas) in your face?’”