With the Sharyland school district and other officials still not releasing new information on an investigation into an alleged abuse incident involving students from Sharyland Pioneer High School, parents and other community members voiced their concerns Monday.
During the school board’s regular monthly meeting, one dozen people signed up during the meeting’s public comments and nearly all of them criticized the district and brought up similar incidents-alleging a history of cover ups and abuse throughout the years.
“So if there was a [crime] or whatever reported to Corpus Christi, why are these kids here,” Tim Jones, a member from the public asked. “Why are these kids getting any kind of privileges? Why aren’t they in jail? It’s a criminal case not a school board case.”
Comments from Jones and others were the latest in a series of criticisms the Sharyland school district is facing. Last week, several outlets reported that the Corpus Christi Police Department were investigating what they referred to as an “inappropriate hazing incident” involving the swim team from Sharyland Pioneer High School during a swim meet in Corpus last fall. Social media has been overrun with accusations of the hazing incident which describe it as sexual assault and accuse a campus official’s son of being behind the attack.
Corpus Christi police confirmed to the Progress Times last week that the investigation was ongoing but could not comment further. When reached for comments, District Superintendent Dr. Maria M. Vidaurri released two statements last week confirming an investigation and condemning several allegations on social media.
“If these allegations are proven to be true, they need to be dealt with in a swift and just manner,” Alejandro Rodriguez, a Mission resident told the board. “If there’s been a case of anyone covering it up, those folks should be fired and let the criminal justice system deal with it. I understand trying to keep things in house, but when you get to allegations this serious, we cannot put up with it. All of you are parents, there’s no reason anyone here should put up with this.”
Due to district policy, the board could not respond to these claims during the meeting and declined to comment afterward.
Audience members were openly hostile to the board with chants of “Shame on you” and “How dare you” popping up throughout the meeting and several cheers of support for speakers.
Former students from the Sharyland school district also spoke against the district Monday during open comments. Dante Flores-Demarchie read screenshots from tweets from students discussing previous times they’ve been assaulted on school grounds and felt like the district did nothing to protect them
“There’s a history of this, this doesn’t just happen. It’s a culture that’s created here,” Flores-Demarchie said. “This administration is narcissistic and they care more about shutting down what anyone says in public than the actual problem.”
This coming May, the school board will have an election for its Place 1 and 2 members, Ricky Longoria and Julio Cerda. Rolando Garcia, a parent who said he had four children and two grandchildren graduate from the school district, reminded board members of their duty to the public.
“I’ve never felt the need to come to a school board meeting because I’ve always felt the people we’ve elected are good enough, competent enough to take care of us,” Garcia said. “If you all don’t do your job, you will be replaced.”