Parents want Hamilton employees put on leave

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

There is growing pressure tonight for the district to remove those school staffers involved in the hazing scandal at Hamilton High School in Chandler, at least until the investigation is complete.

Parents are expressing outrage on a closed group Facebook page that Principal Ken James, Athletic Director Shawn Rustad and former Head Football Coach Steve Belles are still in their respective administration and teaching positions.

[RELATED: New documents reveal possible cover up of hazing at Hamilton High]

Chandler Police have recommended charges against the three men for a number of crimes connected to sex hazing incidents among football players dating back to at least the 2015 – 2016 season. Police are currently working with six victims. A parent ultimately contacted police in January and that sparked the investigation.

“I was blown away by the fact that those three are still able and allowed to be around children. It’s very scary,” said Nicole Dekavallas of Chandler.

[RELATED: Another victim's family plans to sue Chandler district in hazing case]

Dekavallas said her family moved four years ago to a home directly behind Hamilton High with the plan that when her son got old enough he would go the school to be a part of its top ranked football team and take advantage of its excellent academic programs.

She first learned of the hazing accusations when police arrested several students earlier this year. Then a few months later, news broke that school officials reportedly knew about the hazing and did not contact police or parents. Within the last two weeks, Dekavallas said she realized that those under investigation remain on campus.

[READ MORE: Hamilton High hazing allegations: Police recommend charges against former football coach, principal]

“I’ve talked to many parents in the community and we all agree that a leave of absence would be appropriate until we know more information, until the case is resolved. Just for the simple fact that we don’t know what they knew. As far as I know, we know that they had information but didn’t tell the police or the parents. So, that in and of itself is very concerning,” said Dekavallas.

In the past few days newly unsealed police records indicate the disturbing scope of the investigation. Also, police confirmed a sixth victim was working with them and more charges were requested against James and Belles.

[GRAPHIC CONTENT: Email sent to CUSD officials about hazing allegations]

Those events caused a flurry of parents to take to social media to vent their frustration and while her son is not yet in high school, the posts caught Dekavallas’ attention.

“It’s great to talk about this on Facebook but let’s do this in person. Let’s go in front of the superintendent and see if we can make a difference,” said Dekavallas.

[RELATED: 3 teens formally charged in Hamilton High School hazing incident (March 30)]

She decided to try and organize a meeting of concerned parents to gather their thoughts so that when they went before the school board they would come across logical and proactive. She heard from several parents but not the dozens she expected to hear from as reflected on the Facebook page.

“I’m hearing that a lot of parents are afraid. They’re afraid for their children that attend the school. They’re afraid of the repercussions and maybe being bullied. They don’t want their kids to be involved in any way so that they’re protected,” said Dekavallas.

So the determine mom decided to ask interested parents to answer a few question so she could collect their comments and take them to the board, even if no one else joined her.

[READ MORE: Charge recommended against Hamilton High athletic director in hazing case]

She said a number of parents responded by saying they believe those under investigation should not be allowed to work at the school until the investigation has been completed.

“It’s a reasonable request by the community. These are children who are vulnerable. They don’t feel that they can trust the people in charge right now, which they have every right to feel that way and it’s just not acceptable,” said Dekavallas.

Chandler Unified School District officials declined to be interviewed about that Hamilton staffers remaining on campus. But in an email a district spokesman cited four reasons the employees have not been put on leave or reassigned. Terry Locke wrote that no charges have been filed against the employees, that the district is waiting for the review of charges by the county attorney, that the staffers are presumed innocent and that the employees have acted effectively and responsibly during the first quarter of this school year.

Dekavallas does not believe any of those reasons justify not placing the employees on leave.

“I understand that they’re innocent until proven guilty. I completely respect that concept. However, they are still caring for our children right now and that’s not ok. I think that it’s common knowledge at this point that, at the very least, they had an idea of what was going on and did not take the appropriate action to notify the police or the parents. And if I were one of those parents, that would be a very big issue for me,” she said.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Hamilton High School hazing case]

The CUHS Board of Governor’s next meeting is September 27. Dekavallas plan to be there to share her concerns.

Arizona’s Family reached out in emails at least twice since Monday to every board member. None has responded.

We have also asked the Arizona State Board of Education is they were looking into the actions of the Hamilton High staffers.

Executive Director Dr. Karol Schmidt responded in an email with the following:

In response to your inquiry on investigations/complaints regarding Steve Belles, Ken James and Shawn Rustad, A.R.S. 15-350(A) states that “information received and record or reports kept by the State Board of Education during an investigation of immoral or unprofessional conduct are confidential and are not a public record.”

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