La Vernia ISD Implements Safeguards For Students Reporting Assault, Harrassment
In the midst of an investigation into the ritualized sexual assault of male varsity athletes La Vernia ISD announced safeguards on Monday night. But some parents say that’s not enough. They’re demanding answers about how the alleged hazing spiraled out of control.
A federal lawsuit recently filed by an unnamed La Vernia High School student claims there was a “long and sordid history of neglect, misconduct and abuse,” “involving dozens of children over a decade or more,” where male students on varsity teams forcefully sodomized teammates using objects.
The Texas Rangers is now investigating and there have been at least 13 students arrested. Some have been charged as juveniles but others are facing adult criminal charges of sexual assault.
La Vernia ISD Superintendent Jose Moreno Monday announced steps to protect students.
“By the end of the week we will launch a new method to report bullying – harassment – acts of violence – and other unsafe behaviors called 'Listen to My Voice.' We now have a La Vernia police officer assigned to the school full time.”
Moreno also announced that the school district will now conduct its own investigation into the allegations.
But for parent Stephen McNeil the steps taken by the La Vernia School Board and administration have been entirely inadequate. However, when McNeil tried to explain his concerns to the school board during the open forum he was challenged and cut off by board members.
“And just recently on April 23rd another letter was sent out with a deceiving title – the title was please see the attached message from the superintendent regarding ... ," he says.
"Point of order Madam President – this seems like a complaint about the superintendent communication and I think that’s best handled through a grievance.”
McNeil called on the school district to be transparent about the alleged sexual assaults. He said the community isn’t getting answers to questions so social media gossip has taken over.
"The board has done little to acknowledge or address the issue – for over a month you could not even bring yourselves to say the words “alleged sexual assault – to the victims this means you do not believe the accusations and are just protecting the perpetrators – the ISD administration and the board.”
The public will have a chance to weigh in on the performance of the school board Saturday when four trustee seats are up for election.