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HESPERIA — Hesperia Unified School District superintendent David McLaughlin released a statement Wednesday in response to a lawsuit alleging the district was negligent in dealing with hazing practices among students on the Oak Hills High School football team.
“Allegations raised in a recent lawsuit and reported in the local paper which claim that student-to-student hazing occurred at Oak Hills High School and was condoned by staff are deeply concerning,” McLaughlin said in the statement.
McLaughlin said the district learned of the lawsuit through the media. The Daily Press received a copy of the civil complaint from attorney John Manley before the legal papers were served to the district.
Manley said Wednesday that his office had not served the district because the firm had been “very busy administratively” and the firm had 30 days from the July 23 filing date to serve the district.
“We are working on very limited information; nevertheless, we have begun our investigation of this matter,” McLaughlin said. “When we get all of the information we will take appropriate action.”
McLaughlin said that standard procedure will be followed and the allegations will be “thoroughly reviewed and investigated.”
The suit, filed on behalf of the mother of a football player, alleges that Oak Hills football coaches were aware of ritual hazing and “sadomasochistic sexual beatings” among players on the team. The complaint further alleges that school officials did not adequately address reports of sexual hazing.
He said there had been one incident reported during the time frame referenced in the lawsuit and it was “thoroughly investigated,” but “there was no evidence to support the allegations.”
McLaughlin said allegations are “often made ... that don’t hold up when the relevant facts are brought to light.”
“I ask our school community to let the district’s legal counsel examine the suit and please avoid allowing these publicly stated allegations to impugn the reputation of employees,” McLaughlin said. “At this time, I want to assure our school community that we place the highest importance on student safety. These allegations, while serious, must be substantiated with facts.”
Anneli Fogt can be reached at AFogt@VVDailyPress.com or 760-951-6276. Follow her on Twitter @DP_anneli_fogt.