Drill team is disbanded over alleged hazing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The 10-member drill team at Manzano High School has been disbanded, and several members face suspension this week due to allegations of hazing and leaving offensive messages at two local Catholic schools.

Specifically, two students are accused of creating a list of pranks for other team members to complete and leaving the offensive messages. Those students face long-term suspensions, according to a written statement from Albuquerque Public Schools.

Most of the students will serve five days of in-school suspension and will do community service. They also are banned from all “extracurricular performances” for the rest of the year, including, for example, athletic games or meets if they were also athletes.

Albuquerque police are investigating the incident. A police spokeswoman said officers are still conducting interviews and have not yet completed a report.

The Majestics drill team will be re-formed next school year, and current team members will be allowed to try out after serving their suspensions. APS district policy bans hazing, and Superintendent Winston Brooks said in a written statement that he backs the administrators at Manzano who decided to disband the team.

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“Hazing is a form of bullying, of harassment, and it will not be tolerated by Albuquerque Public Schools,” Brooks said in the statement. “We find it demeaning and inappropriate. We applaud the Manzano administration for taking a hard stance and making tough decisions when it comes to disciplining students who participate in hazing.”

The pranks were done in anticipation of the Spirit State Championships, held last weekend at the Santa Ana Star Center. The Majestics participated in the competition because administrators and coaches didn’t find out about the hazing until after the fact.

Manzano principal Therese Carroll said she heard about the allegations from the APD officer assigned to the school. APD was called in response to the prank calls to the Catholic schools.

Carroll would not say what kind of pranks were on the “to-do list,” since APD is still investigating. But she said some of them appeared at first to be crimes. She said it now seems some items on the list that looked like crimes may have been shorthand for more benign pranks.

“We know enough to know the team misrepresented the school, the program, and one another,” she said.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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