A full crowd of parents, residence and media attended the first La Vernia Independent School District Board of Trustees since the sex scandal that shocked the community was announced earlier this month during a meeting Monday night.
“Our students have seen their classmates arrested—their friends,” School District Superintendent José Moreno addressed the crowd. “We have students who for the first time have spoken out and right now are going through a hard time of working through their own emotions.”
The solemn audience listened judiciously as Moreno talked about the impact on La Vernia.
“We will be defined by how we come together as a community and move forward,” he said. “We’re all hurt. And that’s obvious. And that’s why we are all her this evening.”
“We must have the facts before we can move forward,” Moreno explained that the LVISD was advised by ‘the authorities’ (District Attorney and Chief of Police) not to impede their investigations. “We must have all the right information before we can make decisions. This may impact our children in the long run.”
“The culture of discrimination described by the media is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in our school district. But every single student that’s involved in this situation, whether direct or indirect, have the right to go through a judicial process as well as a district process as well.”
In a separate news conference Moreno said the District was finalizing the hearing process for the accused.
“Each one will be looked at individually but what I will tell you is that our Student Code of Conduct will be implemented to its fullest and each student will receive a fair and equitable hearing that will determine what are their next steps.”
Moreno said some of the general outcomes could be the students be sent to Juvenile Education Placement Centers and doubted that it would be in-school suspension. He also said school district first heard of the sex abuse outcry in late February 2017 and their main focus is “establishing a sense of normality for all children.”
Earlier in the day officials confirmed the State Attorney General’s Office and Texas Rangers would be handling the prosecution and investigation these case regarding allegations that high school student athletes sexually assaulted at least 10 other students.
Another source, who remains unidentified to protect their identity, acknowledged the Texas Rangers will be taking over the ever expanding investigation. Although the Rangers have been participating for at least a week, Wilson County Attorney Tom Caldwell also confirmed the law enforcement agency will be leading the investigations.
“There has been a growing and significant concern from the community that local individuals might have a conflict of interest and would be forced to recuse themselves to prevent corruption,” the sourced said. “It was actually the only way to do this. This is a small town. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone knows the names of the victims and the suspects.”
Wilson County District Attorney Audrey Gossett Louis and attorney Caldwell both have children enrolled in La Vernia schools. Caldwell told reporters that “It’s not us kicking the can somewhere else. It’s us kicking the can to people who are truly impartial and cannot be questioned otherwise. We would do our jobs if we had to, but we also want to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
The recent arrests of ten boys’ athletic students in connection with what could be up to 25 victims over several years has rocked the small town 30 minutes southeast of San Antonio. There are about 1,075 students enrolled at the high school. The news to the small town of 1,250 is “potentially devastating,” one psychiatrist said. A father described the community as “all messed up. We are all victims.”