Five Pojoaque Valley High School football players are seeking restraining orders to prevent their school from enforcing suspensions levied against them while Pojoaque Valley School District and the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office conduct investigations into hazing allegations within the program.
Parents of four of the players filed for temporary restraining orders Wednesday in District Court, citing a violation of the players’ due process, a state constitutional right to participate in athletics and unlawful interference with the students’ educational opportunities. One player filed for an order on his own behalf.
The requests came a day after the district announced an investigation into hazing allegations received last weekend through an anonymous reporting application it uses. Superintendent Sondra Adams said the district reported the allegations to the sheriff’s office Monday.
In a statement, sheriff’s office spokesman Juan Ríos confirmed an investigation, adding there have been no charges or arrests. Detectives are conducting interviews, according to the statement.
Adams and Ríos declined to reveal any details regarding the allegations.
The restraining orders named the district, the high school and several Pojoaque Valley High School administrators — Principal Terry Burks, athletic director Elvira Kieyoomia-Crockett and disciplinary officer Gary Johnson — as defendants.
Adams said Thursday afternoon the district was not aware of the restraining orders nor had it received a summons regarding them, but she confirmed the investigation is focused on the football program. Pat Mares, Pojoaque Valley’s head football coach, declined to comment.
The parents filing for the order are Cassandra Martinez, Christina Olivas, Lawrence McCubbins and Elaine Esquibel. The documents state the players were suspended for two weeks from school and all school-related activities Tuesday, though they were not given the opportunity to confront their accusers and no evidence was shared regarding the validity of the allegations.
Adams declined to say how many players were suspended, citing privacy issues.
Jerry Archuleta, the attorney for all five plaintiffs, said all of the players involved are seniors, and two other seniors were suspended because of the investigation. Archuleta would not reveal details of the allegations, but said the players claimed they did not participate in any hazing.
“They said they’ve heard of something that happened, but they didn’t witness it,” Archuleta said. “I don’t want to get into any hearsay. I’m just trying to protect my clients.”
The documents also state the suspensions will cause irreparable harm to the students academically since they will miss 10 days of school and affect any potential athletic scholarship opportunities. Each of the requests state the players have no prior disciplinary actions in their student files. The publicity they may face amid the investigation would cause emotional and mental harm, according to the documents, which would include ridicule from students and media.
Archuleta said the suspensions started during homecoming week and will take away an important event in the players’ lives. Pojoaque, 2-1 this season, plays Thoreau in its homecoming game 7 p.m. Friday.
“We’re just asking to let them participating in homecoming,” Archuleta said. “If the sheriff’s office finds any culpability in anybody, the school can do what it wants to do after it does a complete investigation. But they’re putting the cart ahead of the horse if you punish these children. That’s not something that can be made up.”
Three of the plaintiffs will get an opportunity for their requests to be heard Friday. Two other hearings are scheduled Tuesday.