(Warning: Disturbing contents)
The community of La Vernia, Texas remains shaken as more news is revealed about the High School sex scandal police have been investigating for a few weeks. Following this article are two images of one affidavit of La Vernia Police Sgt. Donald Keil, the chief investigator on the case:
When Chris Taber moved his family across Texas to sign on as the head football coach at La Vernia High School in January, he felt “very blessed. God puts us where he does for a reason.”
Taber was optimistic. Like many high schools, La Vernia’s community has invested much of their money and energy on sports. Parents and various leadership groups work tirelessly and dedicate substantial time to athletic activities–especially football—throughout the school year. Special events, homecoming week, pep rallies, and distant travel to out of town games all support the thought in some circles that the school district could be prioritizing sports much more than is necessary. After all, just a few years ago, the school board elected to install a special turf on the newly remodeled stadium at a cost of almost $500,000.
Taber saw himself as being up for the challenge, knowing football is a high priority in the town of 1,250, just 30 minutes southeast of San Antonio. He was dedicated and planned to cultivate a football team with days of long practice and drill sessions.
During his initial introduction to the district trustees, Taber thanked Superintendent Dr. José Moreno and the district knowing they had “set a challenge to achieve the Lone Star Cup within the next three years. This challenge will be met with enthusiasm and determination from day one…I look forward to the challenges ahead and building a program based on Attitude, Effort, Discipline, and Selflessness.”
The coach had a good history. He took Jacksonville ISD’s varsity football team to bi-district finals, and his Chapel Hill’s team to a 3A State football championship in 2011. Now, three months later, Taber finds himself in the middle of a king-size scandal. Headlines from around the world tell it all:
“Students sexually assaulted with bats, pipes and brooms in hazing scandal” —New York Post
“Texas high school students arrested, face sexual assault charges for using steel pipes, broom sticks in hazing scandal” —New York Daily News
“NINE male high school athletes in Texas charged with ‘holding down at least 10 other boys and sexually assaulting”—Daily Mail
“Nine Charged with Sex Assault in Texas High School Hazing Scandal”—Breitbart News
“They are going to protect football like a sacred cow.”
“He didn’t realize he was walking into a hornet’s nest when he came to the La Vernia Bears den,” one father of a junior student at the high school said Monday. “There is a distorted culture here based on how long you have lived here and what your power status is. There are people who try to control the power and politics and this might have bled down in our traditions. Maybe even in that locker room where those boys were assaulted. The district has a history of skeletons in their closet. They are going to protect football like a sacred cow.”
Superintendent Moreno announced in December 2016 that Scott Grubb, would be stepping down as head football coach. Grubb had taken over after Brandon Layne left for Ferris ISD after only a year as the boy’s athletic director. Grubb’s son Aaron, a La Vernia High School alumina who went on to earn a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Texas-San Antonio came back to teach Health and coach football and track.
Layne’s predecessor was Bo Robinson who resigned in May 2015. Despite the revolving door of head coaches, the La Vernia Bears went into the 4A Division I playoffs last year and were undefeated district champs in the previous three seasons.
“We became disgusted with the exploitation of the power brokers, the ‘good-ole’ boys’ who try to control politics around here.”
A series of questionable actions and charges of dishonesty caused the community to unite against a former LVISD Board of Directors. Citizens overpowered the treachery by voting most of them out in a May 2013 election. The new board worked hard, with many successes to restore integrity and honor in the district. But with La Vernia’s ‘good-ole-boy’ culture, some found that undertaking to be difficult. After hiring Dr. Moreno, the task at hand was to push for a new bond proposal. However, on May 7, 2016 the voters overwhelming rejected the $33.2 million bond by a vote of 1,246 votes against and only 293 for the proposal.
“We became disgusted with the exploitation of the power brokers, the ‘good-ole’ boys’ who try to control politics around here,” the father said. “For a decade we sat by as the district squandered away taxpayer money. First it was a bond for $9 million. The next time it was $36 million. Then we received another $1.5 million from a stimulus fund in 2009. That’s when they actually spent half-a-million dollars to install football turf in the stadium.”
“But the real kicker was when they bought 89 acres outside of town for $857,000 from one of their own. It belonged to Laura and Bernie Ramzinski. Laura was the finance director for the district then.”
A report by Jack Dennis of NEWS LEGIT at the time revealed that the property was purchased for $857,329.92 on Aug. 12, 2010, despite a certified surveyor estimating a lower value. Then Superintendent Tom Harvey, and his agreeable board members, justified the purchase based on their 10 year projection that the district would see a 10,000 student increase in enrollment. Seven years later, the projection for 2020 sits at 3,900.
One of the primary questions on many people’s minds now is how is the “school district, the politicians, the District Attorney’s office, the ‘good-ol-boys’ and law enforcement going to handle this?” the father asks. “There is talk that some of them are already trying to sweep it under the rug, but that’s not going to happen.”
“We used to be a town that let those in power get by with things,” he said. “But we learned our lessons the hard way. Just because someone donates money or makes deals with each other doesn’t excuse the guilty from hurting our children. In the last few elections the voters united to stand against this corruption. The love of our children, the prayers we have for each other, and our collective votes are more prevailing than the power they think they might have. Any judge, attorney, business owner or educator who thinks they can make a deal on this one is very wrong.”
Citizens of La Vernia gathered at City Park Monday night to pray for the children, their families and the community. Another father in attendance looked over the crowd, shook his head and commented,”I’m going to pray for Coach Taber and his family. He came here to have a better life for his children. Perhaps God brought him here for us.”
“He walked into this mess,” another father responded. “He is not the cause of it. If we give him a chance and support him, he might be able to clean it up. But the school board and parents are going to need to stand behind him and not treat him the way outsiders have historically been treated here. Let’s give him the chance to build his program based on Attitude, Effort, Discipline, and Selflessness.”
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