LAUSD, LAPD Investigating High School Hazing

Six Taft High School staff members were transferred to non-school-based jobs Tuesday while an investigation continued into alleged hazing incidents among students.
However, the Los Angeles Police Department issued a statement saying that "based on preliminary information, it is believed that no school administrators, teachers, or coaches actively participated in the alleged hazing activities. The focus of the investigation involves only male students at Taft High School."

David Holmquist, chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Unified School District, said that "we don't have any information that it is anything but a student on student situation."

The district's investigation goes beyond the criminal investigation by the LAPD, Holmquist said.

"We have an obligation under district policy and state law to report all possible child abuse," Holmquist said Tuesday, and "we have facts" that suggest "several employees failed to live up to their obligation under state law to have taken action earlier and more appropriately. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our students," he said.

As a result, six employees had been reassigned to work off campus in administrative locations, Holmquist said.

The six employees "are all of different levels," including teachers, Holmquist said.

The employees will "be reassigned and continue to work within their job descriptions. They will do paper work, training, and otherwise assist."


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The district's investigation into the six employees will not conclude until the police department has finished its investigation, Holmquist said.

Holmquist said this is in part because the police department will be interviewing students and teachers and administrators.

Tuesday morning, District Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines had said the staff members were being investigated for possibly failing to report the alleged hazing.

"The safety and security of our students must come first," Cortines said. "By law, we are required to report any suspicion of or actual abuse of a student. Because I take that obligation seriously, effective (Tuesday) morning, I have reassigned a number of staff members at Taft High School to non-school-based locations pending further investigation."

Cortines said the alleged hazing was first reported last Tuesday.  He said he suspected that some district staffers may have failed to make timely reports about the alleged hazing.

"I expect every employee to take seriously the mandatory responsibility to report to the proper authorities within the required deadline," Cortines said.

Details of the alleged hazing also were not released, although it was reported that the incident involved members of the boys'volleyball team.

"I want to assure you that a report has been made to the Los Angeles Police Department and to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Service," Cortines said.

Police said they were "conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding an alleged pattern of hazing activities involving members of a boys' sports team at Los Angeles Unified School District's Taft High School."

"On Feb. 20, additional information was provided to the LAPD which indicated the scope of the possible criminal activity extended beyond an isolated incident," police said.

Topanga area police detectives were heading up the probe.

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