Napa school board expels two more students over hazing scandal

- Expulsions are roiling Napa High School again, with unanimous votes Thursday night to expel two more students because of a hazing scandal.

The decision by the Napa Unified School District Thursday brings the total number of suspensions related to the hazing incident to five, with more expulsion hearings still to come.

"Do you see the pain that you've caused ?" parent Jacynthe Hamel asked the board after the vote. "You have no idea, you have no idea, sitting behind that desk."

The public commented after the vote. All discussions by board members were made in closed session. The students were not identified by name but were instead referred to only as students A, B, C and D. NVUSD spokeswoman Elizabeth Emmett told reporters that only two of the four expulsions voted on Thursday night were related to the Napa High football hazing scandal. 

Two of the students were expelled with permission to re-enroll at a continuation high school outside the district. The other two were banned from attending public school until at least next fall.

"Adult bullying is what this is, people abusing their power, " mother Flora Torres declared in reaction.

She and husband John left without knowing which expulsion their 16 year old son Johnny received, but knowing he won't be coming back to Napa High School.

"Even tonight, leaving without knowing if our son is student A,B,C or D, is also wrong, but what's another day," Torres said bitterly.  

Johnny was the junior varsity quarterback and a straight-A sophomore before he was suspended indefinitely in January.

This month, he testified at his own expulsion hearing, denying any wrongdoing and characterizing the conduct as locker room "horseplay."

After the alleged hazing was spotted last fall by a janitor, it emerged that JV football players had a ritual of grabbing and "goosing" freshman teammates on top of their clothing.

It was particularly common as the big game approached with cross town rival Vintage High. 

"They did it out of ignorance and lack of education," parent Rich Jacobsen told the board. "They did it because they're fifteen and sixteen years old, and don't have the best judgment. We all know that."

The district investigation has been long and secretive, which families complain is unfair.

Earlier this month, dozens of students walked out of class protesting the resignation of their football coach, after he lost the right to choose his own staff. 

"We're not a football team anymore, we're a group of criminals you made us out to be," said 15 year old Kyle Walston to the panel.

"Thank you for destroying the trust I had in this school, and for turning us against each other."

Napa police, conducting a parallel investigation, have identified sixteen victims, and almost as many alleged perpetrators, plus a coach they said should have reported the hazing- but didn't.

The District Attorney is now considering charges, which might include assault and battery, as well as hazing. 

But parents insist it's an overblown investigation that punishes teens with clean records, who didn't see the harm in horseplay among friends.  

"They were at school after these incident, and they performed in class," implored mother R

Rachel Smith. " The didn't have any other situations. The kids are not afraid of them. They are not a threat. 

Some families, including the Torres, have hired attorneys to pursue appeals or other legal remedies.

'Our honors student son has been out of school for three months for nothing," complained Flora Torres as she left the meeting. "What they're doing is wrong."  

The school board declined comment on the expulsions, as they are considered highly confidential.

In the past, a district spokeswoman has defended the investigation, as putting the safety of students, both physical and emotional, above all else.           

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