Multiple Natrona County High School wrestlers have been disciplined for an incident on a school bus in late January, the Natrona County School District said Wednesday in a statement to the Star-Tribune.
The details of the incident are scant. The district’s statement says that officials became aware of a “situation involving (a) violation of student code of conduct and behavior expectations.” An investigation revealed “an incident occurred” on a bus on Jan. 26 that was traveling back from a wrestling tournament.
The students involved in the incident “were disciplined in accordance with district behavioral guidelines and student code of conduct,” according to the statement. Some students were suspended or removed from the team.
District officials say they immediately contacted law enforcement after learning of the incident. According to a schedule posted on MaxPreps, the Natrona County wrestling team was participating in the Ron Thon tournament in Riverton on Jan. 26.
The district acknowledged that there were not adults in “the middle, back, and the front of the bus,” as is protocol.
District spokeswoman Tanya Southerland said district officials were unavailable to comment last week. Natrona County District Attorney Dan Itzen told the Star-Tribune he hadn’t heard about the incident, nor had his counterpart in Fremont County, Patrick Lebrun. Natrona County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Aaron Shatto said he also was unfamiliar with the incident.
Casper Police Sgt. Scott Jones said that “there is no allegation of any criminal conduct whatsoever.” He declined to characterize the incident, citing the ages of those involved, and said it was a district issue.
The incident is the third known situation involving Wyoming high school wrestlers in the past year. In early January 2018, a group of Kelly Walsh wrestlers were accused of waterboarding a younger teammate. The next day — Jan. 4 — wrestlers from Riverton High School allegedly assaulted several younger teammates on the back of a school bus. Three students in that incident were charged as adults and convicted of misdemeanors in 2018. No students were charged in the Kelly Walsh incident after the district attorney disputed the allegations and declined to press charges.
After the waterboarding allegations came to light, the district and its elected school board spent much of the past year studying and refining Natrona County’s bullying policy. Simultaneously, the board drafted and approved a brand new policy that allows district officials to share details of incidents with the public and the media, a policy that almost certainly led to the release of Wednesday’s statement.
The district also adopted a new discipline guideline system that standardizes how its schools punish students for a variety of offenses.
Star-Tribune staff writers Shane Sanderson and Brady Oltmans contributed to this report.