Morgan County School Board officials investigate hazing incident

MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. - The Morgan County Sheriff's Office, Morgan County Schools, and the Department of Human Resources (DHR) continue an investigation into an incident between students that occurred in February.

"It was a hazing incident," said Morgan County Schools Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. "When our administrator at the school found out about it, he contacted the baseball coach, this was a junior varsity baseball team."

Hopkins tells WHNT News 19 it took place in a locker room at Brewer High School. At the time, he says, the students were all in middle school but played JV baseball at BHS.

The event happened in February, according to Hopkins, but the school administration wasn't made aware until late June, prompting an investigation over the summer. Due to the fact the students were all in middle school, the summer investigation involves three different schools.

The students involved were suspended from all summer programs and started the new school year in in-school suspension.

"We're not going to tolerate bullying, harassment or any of those things at any of our schools," said Hopkins.

He says in addition to punishment, he wants to use it as an opportunity to reinforce correct conduct.

"Discipline means we want to correct that behavior," said Hopkins. "We're going to involve the coaches, all the athletes on this team, and they're getting extra training on bullying and those types of behavior we're not going to tolerate."

The punitive measures have been primarily handled at the school level.

Hopkins says the parents of the victim believe this may have been a sexually-motivated incident. But after getting eight interviews with students close to the situation, investigators with the sheriff's office and DHR agree it doesn't meet the criteria for sexual assault.

Hopkins says the investigation is ongoing. WHNT News 19 also spoke with Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin who says investigators were made aware of the incident.

She says they continue to look at the elements of the case to see if it rises to the level of criminal charges. Hopkins says more disciplinary actions are likely.

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