Forks investigation into hazing incident ongoing
By Paula Hunt Peninsula Daily News
FORKS — The Quillayute Valley School District superintendent said that nine Forks High School football players involved in a hazing incident against two other student-athletes have been disciplined.
The bus was returning from an Oct. 8 football game against Friday Harbor in Anacortes.
District and criminal investigations into the event continue.
“The kids received appropriate discipline and athletic sanctions according to our district handbook and our athletic code of conduct as well,” said Quillayute Valley School District Superintendent Diana Reaume, who declined to go into detail about the nature of the corrective actions.
Reaume said that she could not discuss any disciplinary actions that may or may not be taken against the football coaching staff who can be seen in a video recording from the bus’s security camera.
“I cannot comment on or describe the specifics because of confidentiality,” she said.
After learning Oct. 14 about the alleged incident and viewing the video recording, the district canceled the two remaining football games of the season.
It reported the incident to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, as it was legally required to do, and contacted the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, which provides member districts with risk and safety management services.
The Washington Schools Risk Management Pool assigned the district’s case to an attorney who, in turn, hired an independent investigator to interview students and staff, and review relevant materials, like the video.
Reaume said the investigation was continuing and would result in a report, although she did not know the date when that might happen.
The Quillayute Valley School District Student and Parent Handbook prohibits harassment, intimidation and bullying and outlines a progression of disciplinary actions from parent conferences to expulsion.
According to the district’s Athletic and Activities Handbook, among the infractions that will lead to discipline, suspension or dismissal from a team are demonstrating unsportsmanlike conduct, such as fighting, hazing and verbal abuse.
The Athletic and Activities Handbook states that a head coach is “in charge of monitoring the team’s discipline under the accepted rules and standards of the school district. This includes any violation of the Athletic Code.” The head coach is required to report any violations committed by student-athletes.
While the district investigation mentions two victims, the criminal investigation is focused on one.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its criminal investigation into the event, said Sheriff Brian King, although it is being stymied by the refusal of a victim and the victim’s family to participate.
“When a school says there might be potential criminal conduct, our first step is to go to make contact [with the victim] to see if they are a victim of a crime or if they believe they are,” King said.
“It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to pursue a criminal act without a victim’s cooperation because they set the stage, they tell us what happened and why. So that’s kind of where we’re at.”
King said that his office had not been made aware of any outside pressure or threats against the victim and the family that might have influenced their decision to not speak to law enforcement.
Reaume said that since the incident, the district has taken steps to improve student and staff accountability and safety.
“We’ve already changed some of our practices and is one of those would be supervision on the buses, especially on long trips,” she said. “We are implementing a series of e-learning modules that students, student-athletes and our coaches take and additional training that is needed.”
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at Paula.Hunt@soundpublishing.com