Published May 13, 2003
GLENVIEW, Ill. – A suburban high school Monday suspended several seniors involved in a brutal off-campus hazing (search) melee and will recommend the girls be expelled.
Principal Michael Riggle of Glenbrook North High (search) said he took the steps after the district's lawyer advised him that the school had broader powers to discipline students for the videotaped incident than he had thought.
Within hours, one of the students filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court (search) seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the school from suspending her, according to her attorney.
"You are entitled to an education so when someone takes that right from you without giving you due process, they have violated (your) due process rights," said Naomi Valas, an attorney representing Marnie Holz.
Valas said Holz, 18, has been accepted to the University of Wisconsin and she did not know if the suspension puts that in jeopardy.
The 10-day suspensions are the longest the school can mete out, Riggle said. He said it would be up to the district to decide whether to expel the students, which would bar them not only from campus but from the prom and graduation ceremonies.
"We have never tolerated actions of this nature within our school or by our students within the community, nor will we now or in the future," Riggle said.
Junior girls from the school were beaten and showered with mud, feces and garbage by seniors on May 4 at a Cook County park. Five girls were injured seriously enough that they had to go to the hospital.
The video has been shown on national television, to the embarrassment of the well-to-do Chicago suburb of Northbrook.
Riggle would not say how many students were suspended, citing the privacy of educational records. He said only senior girls who participated in the hazing were suspended, not other students who watched.
All those suspended will be recommended for expulsion, he said.
Expulsion from the school would not prevent seniors from graduating. Those seniors who have not yet earned enough credits to graduate will be sent to "alternative education" to complete their studies, Riggle said.
The students have three days to begin the appeals process, he said.
The school found that the students violated laws on hazing and assault, Riggle said. The investigation also found the students violated the school's hazing policy and the Illinois school code.
Earlier, Riggle had said he had little power to discipline the girls because the event was off campus and not sanctioned by the school.
Authorities have said criminal charges in the videotaped incident are likely. Steve Mayberry, a spokesman for the Cook County Forest Preserve Police, said investigators spent the weekend interviewing students and parents. Interviews were continuing Monday, with charges expected sometime this week.
Dave Hales, the superintendent overseeing Glenbrook North, called the effects of the videotapes "devastating." However, he noted that the incident involved a fraction of the school's nearly 2,100 students.
Authorities have been investigating anonymous tips that parents provided kegs of beer for the hazing, which started as a "powder puff" football game. So far, they have no solid leads, Northbrook police said.