A group of Riverton high school students have been suspended and are facing expulsion over a January hazing or bullying incident on a school bus, the school district’s superintendent said, as various lawyers look into the incident, which occurred in Natrona County.
Fremont County School District No. 25 Superintendent said the district is waiting for a Natrona County court ruling before district officials proceed with the expulsion process. He declined to say how many students are suspended, but he previously told the Star-Tribune that three Riverton high school students were facing expulsion while a fourth faced suspension.
He said “the accused” had asked the district for the names of the victims, which the district’s school board refused to provide. The accused have since gone to court to obtain the identities, he said. It’s unclear how far advanced that process is; court documents were not available earlier this week, and a call to an attorney believed to be involved was not returned Thursday.
Simultaneously, the Natrona County District Attorney’s Office has been forwarded details of the incident. Natrona County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Aaron Shatto declined to provide details of the case because it involved juveniles, but he said law enforcement investigated it and have sent the results to District Attorney Michael Blonigen.
Blonigen was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Details of the incident remain scant. In a contentious interview with Snyder last week, Riverton radio host John Birbari referred to “sexual harassment” between male students on a bus to a wrestling trip.
Snyder declined to provide any details about the “wrestling situation” and said he would wait for the district court and the district attorney to make a determination. He had previously told the Star-Tribune the students were traveling for a school activity and that the incident could be characterized as incorporating hazing and bullying as part of an initiation.
In the radio interview, Birbari suggested the bus incident — combined with LGBT-friendly paintings inside of the high school — might have created a “cultural problem” at Riverton High.
“I think that is something that people understand, we’re not going to tolerate the behaviors that some kids have with that,” Snyder replied, apparently referring to the bus incident. “We’re going to be very firm with that. I don’t think that creates a culture. I don’t think the actions of a small number of students creates a culture, John.”
Snyder said Riverton High School’s wrestling coach has stepped down.
“He determined that because of health reasons and for the best interest of the program, that he would step down from being head coach,” Snyder said.
He said he was “not going to make a statement on that either way” when asked if the bus incident played a role in the coach resigning.