Two of 13 students criminally charged in the La Vernia High School sex scandal will not be allowed back in the school. The La Vernia Independent School District Board (LVISD) of Trustees held a special school board meeting on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria the High School and decided to uphold the expulsion of the two. They will continue their education at an alternative school in Floresville or Nixon, Texas.
The community has been rattled with the arrests of 13 students in the past month charged with sexual assault in the hazing scandal involving the boy’s athletic program. Six adult students and seven juvenile classmates have been charged.
“The district is deeply committed to protecting the safety and well-being of all its students and does not tolerate any behavior that puts its students at risk of harm,” Superintendent Dr. Jose Moreno said. “They will still be provided a proper education. We’ll continue to move forward at this point.”
Two juvenile age students originally intended to appeal at the board meeting but elected to abide by the expulsion judgement. Nine other students have so far decided not to appeal. Moreno said the board had to follow the requirements of the Texas Education Code, their student code of conduct and the LVISD board policy.
During a Closed Session the Board discussed the Texas Government Code regarding consulting with attorney, school children and employees; disciplinary action or complaint, personally identifiable information about public school student, investigation; and exclusion of witness from hearing.
They also considered “Expulsion Appeal Hearings of K.H., Z.S., P.B., and R.P. Including Consultation with Legal Counsel in Regards to Same.”
A federal lawsuit was in the Southern District Court of Texas on April 6, 2017 against LVISD administrators and coaches on behalf of one of the victims in the sexual assault cases, according to Certified Injury Attorney J.K. Ivey.
Ivey said the suit, filed by the victim’s parents, is “the first step in an effort to peel back the covers on a long and sordid history of neglect, misconduct, and abuse at La Vernia High School involving dozens of children over a decade or more.”
Superintendent Moreno, La Vernia High School Principal Kristen Martin, La Vernia High School Athletic directors Brandon Layne and Richard Hinojosa, coaches Chris Taber, Scott Grub and Keith Barnes were specifically named in the lawsuit.
“In class, a teacher advised the students that she had heard about the assault and told the class that ‘it was wrong’ and to ‘cut it out.’”
The complaint filed indicate the family is “seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages arising from their son’s sodomization as part of a team ‘initiation’ ritual, allegedly known about by administrators and coaches in the La Vernia Independent School District.”
The family alleges their child was initially assaulted after being elevated to the varsity football team in 2015. According to the lawsuit, seniors on the team approached the then 15-year-old freshman to threaten him with an “initiation.” Before a playoff game, upperclassmen held him facedown on the locker room floor. “An upperclassmen then grabbed a Gatorade G2 bottle, and pushed it into CHILD DOE’s anus over his shorts,” the lawsuit states.
According to the family, one week later the attack was known by school officials. “In class, a teacher advised the students that she had heard about the assault and told the class that ‘it was wrong’ and to ‘cut it out.’” the lawsuit alleges. The family alleges the teacher told the student she’d even emailed athletic director and head football coach Brandon Layne about the “initiation.”
In a locker-room chat, Layne gave the varsity squad a talking to, saying, “You won’t be able to get a job, no girl will want to date you and you could go to prison… cut it out,” is how Layne addressed the varsity team about their abuse in the locker room.
Two weeks later upperclassmen grabbed the student before practice again, according to the lawsuit. They slammed him onto the locker room floor and “punched and fondled” while he fought them off. Two weeks later, he was attacked again before practice.
During the beginning of the fall 2016 football season, CHILD DOE was once again attacked by teammates in the locker room. “As he was forcibly held down by two of them, the third took a cardboard tube from a coat hanger and pushed it into CHILD DOE’s anus,” the lawsuit claims. The teammates continued laughing as they told him, “New year, new initiation.”
A few weeks later he rolled under a bench to prevent another assault. He remained under the bench until the perpetrators gave up on the “initiation.” Another few weeks went by when a senior teammate threatened to rape him with a metal pipe until a coach walked in, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks damages for civil rights violations.