The superintendent of a Texas school district plagued by sexual assaults in a hazing scandal resigned following a special meeting held by the board of trustees.
Jose Moreno, the superintendent of the La Vernia Independent School District, exited amid accusations during last year’s high school athletic department sex hazing scandal. Law enforcement authorities believed the incidents traced back to the 2014-15 academic year.
In March, Breitbart Texas reported that La Vernia police charged nine students on sexual assault charges for their alleged roles in the locker room attacks. Ultimately, La Vernia police arrested a total of 13 male students — charging seven of them as minors through the juvenile court system — and six others, of legal age, as adults. Authorities believed at least 10 students were victimized, all younger male team members.
One family filed a lawsuit in civil court over their 15-year-old son’s purported sexual assault while he was on the football team, asserting a “pervasive rape culture” existed in the school’s athletic program, that the coaches knew about it. The suit also claimed that school officials did not report these incidents to the authorities. The legal action named Moreno, La Vernia High School Principal Kristen Martin, the athletic department’s head coach, two athletic directors, plus two other coaches as defendants.
Breitbart Texas reported:
The suit alleged that the suspects committed hazing, harassment, bullying, physical and sexual abuse against the plaintiff identified as “Child Doe.” It called these acts “sadistic hazing rituals which include rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration, and sexual abuse” and described an example where perpetrators allegedly held Child Doe face down and shoved a bottle into his anus over his shorts. It said he was sexually attacked five times. The plaintiffs seek a jury trial and ask for punitive and other damages for medical expenses, pain, anguish, and loss of wages.
However, in July, the civil case was postponed because of a health issue experienced by the plaintiff’s attorney, according to KSAT. It remains unclear if the case resumed.
Over the summer, Moreno blamed an “underground culture” for these sexual violations and maintained he had no knowledge about any of the alleged sexually-motivated hazing acts until the first victim came forward in February.
On Thursday evening, the La Vernia ISD school board gave little information as to why they invited Moreno “to resign” during a closed executive session. The trustees praised his leadership over the three years he helmed the district, according to a La Vernia News Facebook post. Moreno did not attend the meeting.
In a joint statement released on the school district’s website Friday, the trustees and Moreno announced his immediate resignation. It stated an “agreement has been reached which allows Dr. Moreno to serve the district in a different capacity and eventually pursue other interests and permits the board to pursue hiring another superintendent.”
The statement continued: “In light of the foregoing on behalf of the entire district, the Board of Trustees expresses its sincerest appreciation to Dr. Moreno for his efforts and leadership while serving as Superintendent of this great school district and its wonderful students, parents, and administrators.”
KSAT reported that Shannon Burns, the executive director of human resources for La Vernia ISD, will fill in as interim superintendent beginning Friday, November 10.
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