Four Dos Palos High School varsity football players arrested earlier this year in an alleged hazing scandal will not be expelled from school.
Superintendent Bill Spalding said a hearing panel of three administrators on Monday did not recommend expulsion. Spalding said he couldn’t go into detail on what the charges were due to student privacy laws.
“The panel had three experienced administrators who must be neutral and were neutral,” Spalding said, declining to name the administrators. “They must consider all the evidence and testimony brought before them.”
The players, three 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old, were arrested in September after allegations of hazing surfaced. They each were charged with a felony count of false imprisonment and a misdemeanor count of hazing, authorities have said.
Because the victim and all four defendants in the case are minors, authorities have not released any details on the allegations, but have said the case centers on a single incident Sept. 7.
The ruling allows the four students to return to school and to play football again next year, Spalding said.
Some of the players returned to school Monday, and the others returned Tuesday, he said. The players were under an extended suspension while the expulsion cases were being heard, also holding them out from football activities.
Football season is over, but the players are allowed to try out for any school activities, if academically eligible, after the panel’s ruling, Spalding said.
Spalding said the panel thoroughly deliberated the case.
Because the panel did not recommend expulsion, the case will not head to the Dos Palos Oro Loma Joint Unified School District board for a vote.
The criminal case is being heard in juvenile court in Merced County.
Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Madayag said she could not provide any details about the case.
Madayag, however, did say juveniles charged with a first-time felony “typically” are eligible for a Deferred Entry of Judgment program. The program requires defendants to plead guilty, but allows them to avoid a criminal conviction if they complete terms of probation.
Typically, Madayag said, defendants in the program are required to perform community service, receive counseling and make restitution. The program can last from one to three years, at the end of which, charges are dismissed.
We all as a nation ... need to make sure the light is turned on in these types of issues.
Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann
Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann said he was satisfied with the outcome but said “everybody” needs to do more to prevent such incidents.
“We all as a nation, from the police department to the schools, need to make sure the light is turned on in these types of issues,” Mann said. “We need to make sure people understand how hazing affects people.”
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482