La Vernia ISD upholds expulsion of 2
students accused of sexual assault
LA VERNIA, TX – The La Vernia Independent School District upheld on Tuesday the expulsion of two students who have been accused of sexual assault, while two other students preemptively withdrew their appeals.
After holding hearings and deliberating in closed session for 2½ hours, the board of trustees unanimously voted to send two students to a disciplinary alternative education program outside of the district. La Vernia ISD currently contracts with Nixon-Smiley Consolidated Independent School District for DAEP placements. If the students do not enroll in that program by May 1, they can enroll in a juvenile justice alternative program run by Floresville Independent School District.
Originally, the board was going to consider appeals for four students, but two students withdrew their appeals just before the meeting began, opting instead to accept the district’s decision by default. Those students have the same options for continuing their educations as the two students whose appeals were denied.
The four students, who were identified only by their initials — K.H., Z.S., P.B. and R.P. — are among the 13 students who have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into hazing and sexual assault accusations at La Vernia High School. None of the initials match the six adult students who have been charged so far with sexual assault.
Previously, attorneys for Dustin Norman, one of the students charged as an adult, criticized the district’s handling of due process and claimed that Norman had not been given an appeals hearing.
Superintendent Jose Moreno said in a statement that La Vernia is “deeply committed to protecting the safety and well-being of all its students.” Before adjourning the meeting at 8:05 p.m., he said he would look into the possibility of hiring a campus police officer, at the request of a board member.
“I believe the board has taken all the information they were provided and made a sound decision based on what they believe was right,” Moreno said.
“The board’s decision, while a difficult one, gives the students a path forward to complete their credits and graduate,” Moreno said.
Since the arrests, the middle school and high school students have participated in Rachel’s Challenge, a program aimed at reducing bullying, harassment and violence in schools. Moreno said he has also met with the parents of athletes to discuss their concerns.
So far, authorities have arrested six adult and seven minor students in connection with allegations of systemic hazing within the high school’s football, basketball and baseball teams. Earlier this month, the family of one of the victims filed a lawsuit against the district and school staff, alleging their son had been repeatedly assaulted by football teammates over a period of three years.
The Texas Rangers have taken the lead on the investigation, which remains ongoing. Officers have established a presence at the school as they conduct interviews with students.