Principal: Expel six students

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By David Giuliani

Robertson High School’s principal is recommending the expulsion of six football players from the school district in connection with alleged hazing during a team camp, officials said Monday.

According to a press release, Principal Richard Lopez made the decision in response to alleged wrongdoing during the four-day camp, which took place a couple of weeks ago. The expulsions are subject to a formal hearing process.

Superintendent Rick Romero said the district has completed its investigation of the students. The state police are also looking into the matter.

The district plans to hold hearings for each student starting at     8 a.m. next Tuesday at its central office on Douglas Avenue. The hearings will be closed, unless the parents allow the district to open the doors.

June Romero, no relation to the superintendent, will preside over the hearings, officials said. She has handled such issues around the state through her work with the New Mexico School Boards Association, according to the district.

The press release states the district is unable to release its findings because it’s a confidential student matter.

The district has also placed Athletic Director Mike Yara and head football coach Ray Woods and his staff on paid administrative leave pending an investigation on their handling of the matter.

Romero said in the press release that the investigation into the employees should be finished by next week.

The state police have yet to make any arrests in the alleged hazing. But Capt. Robert Shilling said last week that the agency has evidence that supports the claims of Robertson freshmen players who allege they were violently attacked as part of the hazing ritual.

The accusations include a claim that at least one student was sodomized with a broomstick — an allegation that Shilling said his agency has corroborated.

He said he was not prepared to discuss the nature of the evidence because of medical privacy issues and because the complete case file had not been submitted to the prosecutors.

The alleged attacks took place at the Western Life Camp, which is 15 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the Gallinas canyon.

The victims’ families apparently have hired Albuquerque attorney Will Ferguson. He didn’t return a message for comment Monday, but he told KRQE in Albuquerque that the district has yet to come clean about what really happened during the football initiation. He told the TV station that he understands hazing has become a tradition at Robertson.

“When  parents turn their kids over to a school or a school function, they expect those kids to be safe,” Ferguson told KRQE. “The fact that hazing might have occurred in the past and (was) considered part of the process doesn’t excuse the lack of supervision.”