NEW MADISON — Tri-Village School District Board of Education Vice President Tom Schlechty said he wanted to set the record straight after reading what some local parents had to say about the hazing allegations against the high school boys basketball team..
Schlechty said the board is forbidden to address anything about a student or a student’s file and that information is confidential. In reference to the board ignoring a woman’s request to address the allegations during Monday’s board meeting’s “public participation” portion, Schlechty said, “she didn’t specify anything, and we didn’t ask.”
According to Schlechty, Josh Sagester, board Superintendent and Head Coach of the boys basketball team did none of the investigation into the alleged hazing.
“That was handed over to the high school Principal Mr. [Lee] Morris and Athletic Director Brad Gray,” he said. “I have no idea what he did as a basketball coach.”
As far as the allegation of hazing incidents happening in the past, Schlechty said this is the first the board had knowledge of the incidents.
“If they had happened, we would have done something about them,” he said.
In response to the parents saying the board is trying to keep the incidents quiet, Schlechty said there are reasons behind this effort.
“We are not in the practice of sweeping anything under the rug, but we are in the practice of considering privacy and confidentiality as per law. You have to understand how much our hands are tied with what we can and can’t say. The public doesn’t realize that. Maybe they should run for the board themselves. Then they can know everything they want to know,” he said.
Parents have said they are afraid to speak out, in fear of retaliation from the school.
“It’s a small community. If you put your word out there, you might be putting a target on your head, but it wouldn’t be coming from the board. Everyone on the board is a well-known member of the community, I don’t know why they wouldn’t speak up. Some people don’t want the truth, some people want a conspiracy,” he said.
Some have said a “gag order” have been placed on teachers and students to keep them from discussing the alleged incidents. Schlechty said there is nothing in place, to his knowledge.
“If I were employing people, I would not ask them to keep quiet, but I would ask them not to spread rumors,” he said.
Parents claim the Darke County Sheriff’s Office came to the school to investigate the matter and Tri-Village officials would not allow the department to conduct an investigation without someone from the school present.
“When the sheriff’s department came down, they came to their own conclusion, independently. They had to have a parent’s permission, per school policy, to allow them to talk to the police department. There are some stipulations there,” Schlechty said.
Schlechty also denied that a board member told everyone they could go home, after Monday night’s board meeting’s executive sessions.
“Our investigation is over and the sheriff’s investigation is over,” he said. “I can’t say the outcome. It was handled [independently] with each student. I can’t say anything about the investigation.”
According to Darke County Sheriff Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker, the detective on the case is still working on the reports and gathering up all of the narratives to finalize everything.
“She will submit the report to the Darke County Prosecutor R. Kelly Ormsby. Once he has it in hand, he can decide what he wants to do,” Whittaker said.
A Tri-Village Board of Education Special Session will take place Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
“This has to do with special developments due to these allegations,” Schlechty said. “If anyone wants to come, there will be no public speaking.”
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