Austin Students Avoid Expulsion After Gulf Shores Incident

DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – A group of Austin High School athletes can breathe easier today. They will not face expulsion in connection with an incident at a Gulf Shores track meet. Police say one of those athletes stole a car. Superintendent Ed Nichols sent the team home after the incident.

The students were in Gulf Shores for a state track meet earlier this month. One of the students is accused of stealing a car from a popular bar and restaurant. He was arrested a short time later, and Nichols ordered the entire team to return home.

“So bringing the team home was my decision due to the fact that the information we received from the Gulf Shores Police Department was that nobody, not the folks directly involved or other members of the team who had knowledge of it were very cooperative,” Nichols said.

He says the school system placed the teacher on administrative leave and sent the students to an alternative school.

“You know, we followed our code of conduct, and we had a discliplinary hearing in my office and decided first of all that we didn’t think with all the information that we had that a recommendation for expulsion for any of the students was really relevant,” Nichols told WHNT News 19.

In fact the senior students were allowed to graduate, and following the outcome of the investigation, the school system returned the teacher to duty.

“Just because an incident gets a lot of publicity doesn’t mean that it is different than other incidents that occur that don’t get that much publicity,” Nichols explained.

Nichols says in keeping with school board policy, details of each student’s punishment regarding the incident would not be made public. He says they are reviewing their policy regarding adult supervision for future trips such as this.

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