Details on an alleged hazing incident involving students at Sharyland Pioneer High School last semester remain unclear, angering community members.
During a special school board meeting Wednesday, Sharyland Pioneer students and community members confronted the school board over what they say is inaction on the school district to punish the students involved.
“My son is on the swim team and I want to know if this actually happened or if it’s just hearsay and if the school will do enough to address it,” Rosalia Romero, a parent attending the meeting said. “It’s frustrating that we’re finding out about this through gossip instead of the board letting us know.”
Details of the hazing incident came out publicly following an article from The Monitor that was published Tuesday. The article says a student was the victim of an “inappropriate” hazing incident involving members from Sharyland Pioneer High School’s swim team last fall that was investigated by a Corpus Christi law enforcement agency.
A spokesperson from the Corpus Christi Police Department confirmed Thursday investigators had been assigned to the case which was reported in late December and that the investigation was in its “beginning stages.”
Among the students from Sharyland Pioneer High School who addressed the board were Nancy Ramones, a senior who says she personally knows the victim.
According to Ramones, the students involved in the hazing incident were suspended to the district’s Alternative Education Program-while the victim had to transfer to a different school.
“The people involved only got AEP, I don’t feel it was fair they came back to the school and the victim had to move schools because he couldn’t go back to somewhere he was violated,” Ramones told the board.
Prior to her comments, Ramones said students had been aware of the incident since the Christmas break and that the student doing the hazing wasn’t properly punished due to ties to a campus official.
“Underclassmen were the ones punished for witnessing it but they witnessed it only because they were scared it would happen to them too,” Ramones told the board. “This is something they called an ‘initiation’ something that happens to freshmen so they were scared that would happen to them too. I just think there should be more of a punishment.”
As these comments were made during the board meeting’s public comments session, board members did not respond to them. When asked for comment, district Superintendent Maria M. Vidaurri released a statement to the Progress Times.
“The District was recently made aware of an incident that took place off campus during the Fall 2019 Semester. Upon learning of the incident, an internal investigation was conducted, and the appropriate local authorities were immediately notified,” according to the statement. “Due to the nature of the allegations and the involvement of students, the District is not at liberty to release any additional information at this time. Please be assured that the District takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and has addressed this matter with great care and concern for all involved.”
After the meeting, Vidaurri said the district is considering publicly addressing the hazing incident on social media but declined to comment further.
Several Sharyland Pioneer parents spoke to the Progress Times under the condition of anonymity and said they all personally know the victim and claimed the student athlete involved in the hazing incident has ties to a campus official.
“This kid got a three-day suspension from school on punishment, that’s a slap on the wrist,” one parent said. “We’re worried for the community and the kids because if he did this and didn’t suffer consequences, what will happen to other kids? We know the victim, how can I let my kids join sports if I don’t know if they’ll be safe after this incident happened?”
Another student who addressed the board was Franky Aranda who criticized the district after hearing that witnesses of the hazing incident got three days of suspension. He said this was light in comparison to his seven-week suspension he received last year for posting a video on his Snapchat of a student bringing a replica of a gun to campus, causing him to miss five track meets.
“So either my punishment was too far, or this punishment was not enough,” Aranda said. “It was an illegal act and three days does not justify illegal activity.”
One resident, Gilda Rodriguez, expressed faith in the board to address these allegations.
“I have my 10-year-old here with me and I know you all personally and I just don’t want this to happen in our school district again and I know you will take care of this,” Rodriguez said. “You will address the matter, so please listen. Don’t turn a blind eye like the community says you will. I hope my son doesn’t deal with something like this when he’s a freshman at Pioneer.”