Nine students at La Vernia High School in Texas, about 20 miles east of San Antonio, have been charged with sexual assault in connection with a long history of hazing incidents at the high school in this small farming community, the Associated Press reports.
“The travesty of the events occurring at the La Vernia High School have crushed the spirit of our community,” School Superintendent Jose Moreno posted on the La Vernia Independent School District’s Facebook page, adding that staff at the high school—and at the other schools in the district— were “committed to knowing every student by name and need, have High expectations, respect those they serve, are student-centered, and through teamwork achieve the goals they set out to achieve.”
As with many schools, there are good and bad stories to tell. A culture that promotes hazing—this time on the football team, it seems—is one that makes students afraid to go to school. “Hard to be proud of this community when my 16-year-old is crying because he doesn’t understand how his friend could assault his other friends in such a disgusting way,” one parent wrote on Facebook. “For the first time ever I’m ashamed to claim LV as my hometown.”
The hazing allegations go back to at least 2014, according to La Vernia police Chief Bruce Ritchey. The juveniles were arrested and then released into the care of their parents, but the police didn’t release their names. Police added that several “persons of interest” were still under investigation in the case of athletic hazing.
The high school announced the hiring of a new athletic director and football coach, Chris Taber, about two months ago. “La Vernia’s always been on my radar, knowing the tradition and the area,” the San Antonio Express-News quoted him as saying. “When it came open, it was a no-brainer for me to apply for it. I love the area and the kids down there.”
Let’s hope the “tradition” he was referring to is not the hazing that police say has been going on since 2014.