Judge's ruling over football hazing incident miffs Pojoaque school district - Albuquerque Journal

Judge’s ruling over football hazing incident miffs Pojoaque school district

Seven Pojoaque Valley High School senior football players are being investigated by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office after allegations of hazing this past week.

School district officials orginally gave the players short-term suspensions for 10 days and barred them from extracurricular activity, including playing in Friday’s homecoming game against Thoreau. But after District Court Judge Matthew Wilson granted a temporary restraining order Friday against the district in favor of two of the players, district superintendent Sondra Adams relinquished the punishment against all of the accused.

School officials said the district “vehemently disagrees” with the judge’s decision.

The players were originally suspended without a due-process hearing, Wilson noted in his ruling.

In his ruling, Wilson wrote, “The Court also believes that the School District is required to conduct at least an informal hearing under the circumstances advising the plaintiff of the allegations and giving the plaintiff the chance to respond or appeal for leniency before the opportunity to receive an education is denied through a lengthy suspension.”

Original complaints came in anonymously on Monday via the district’s anti-bullying application and while district officials conducted an investigation, it also called in the sheriff’s department because of the serious nature of the allegations.

The seniors were accused of forcibly pulling down the pants of as many as 11 freshman players and touching their private parts.

An unnamed Elks football coach testified “that he has been present at all times in the high school locker room when the football team was changing for practice and games. The coach stated he did not see any inappropriate behavior in the locker room,” according to Wilson’s ruling.

Under the judge’s ruling, the accused players are not permitted to be in the locker room with the rest of the team.

The matter will return to Wilson’s court Wednesday as he determines the status of the order.

It was not known immediately if those senior players did in fact play Friday against Thoreau, a game the Elks won 50-0. Pojoaque Valley head coach Pat Mares declined to comment.

“We are extremely disappointed that the judge ruled the students should be allowed to return,” according to a news release distributed by the district, noting the district was not notified of the Friday morning hearing until late Thursday.

“PVSD attended the hearing to request a continuance to allow the District adequate time to prepare and, in the interest of student safety, to object to the return of the students,” the release said. “We are also concerned that the ruling extends due process rights for temporary student suspensions, beyond what is set out in the law, and so seriously undermines and limits the legal tools available to schools to enforce discipline and protect students. Pojoaque Valley School District vehemently disagrees with (Friday’s) ruling.”

No one has been charged in the case, according to a news release from the sheriff’s department, which has already interviewed a number of the freshman players.

“PVSD believes it has a duty to ensure the safety of all students and when necessary, as was the case here, must take immediate action to fulfill that duty,” the school district release said.

Friday’s ruling “limits the PVSD’s options and potentially places students at risk of harm. PVSD’s actions to suspend some students were properly taken to ensure the health and safety of the entire student body, including the suspended students,” it additionally said. “Unfortunately, the court has tied the hands of the district and has placed unnecessary restrictions on the actions it can take to protect the students of PVSD.”

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop


With playoff berth in reach, United draws a blank
Featured Sports
Desperation was not on New Mexico ... Desperation was not on New Mexico United's side Saturday night.Rio Grande Valley FC pl ...
Prep soccer roundup: Atrisco boys gets big win as ...
Boys' Soccer
The final day of prep soccer's ... The final day of prep soccer's regular season generated a crowd atop the boys standings in District ...
Yodice: Final week of prep football has major implications
Featured Sports
The final furlong has arrived.Next Saturday, ... The final furlong has arrived.Next Saturday, the 11-Man football playoff brackets get ...
Chavez's return, gritty defense spark Lobos' upset win at ...
Whenever the University of New Mexico ... Whenever the University of New Mexico is going through a losing streak, the Lobos might be smart to go to Isaiah Chavez, their gritty ...
Longtime APS athletic director Barreras steps aside
Featured Sports
Albuquerque Public Schools will be searching ... Albuquerque Public Schools will be searching for a new athletic director.Kenny Barrera ...
Prep volleyball: No. 1 Hope Christian beats defending state ...
Featured Sports
As the state tournament draws ever ... As the state tournament draws ever nearer, it's becoming more likely that the team everyone will be ...
In local Korn Ferry qualifier, stress falls upon middle ...
Featured Sports
When it comes to the qualifying ... When it comes to the qualifying school of the Korn Ferry Tour for professional golfers, Scott Harrin ...
Gonzales: It's time for Lobo offense to step up
During the past two weeks, the ... During the past two weeks, the University of New Mexico (2-5, 0-3 Mountain West) has scored two touc ...
United's playoff push to go on without Sandoval
Featured Sports
It's not the type of finish ... It's not the type of finish Devon Sandoval envisioned. Sandoval, an Albuquerque native and the recognized face of New Mexico United's franchise, took to ...