Mingus Union athletes receive 180-day suspensions for bus hazing incident

Attorney Phillip Visnansky represented Tyler Kelly, who was suspended for 180 days by the Mingus Union school board for sexually related hazing. (Photo by Bill Helm)

Attorney Phillip Visnansky represented Tyler Kelly, who was suspended for 180 days by the Mingus Union school board for sexually related hazing. (Photo by Bill Helm)

VERDE VALLEY — Two varsity athletes from Mingus Union were suspended for sexually related hazing of three students on a school bus March 6.

In an open disciplinary hearing that lasted close to three hours, senior Tyler Kelly was told he would need to continue his education elsewhere if he planned to graduate in two months.

The other student, whose name wasn’t released, also received a 180-day suspension from Mingus, said Mingus Union Superintendent Penny Hargrove.

According to Hargrove, the incident was reported by the coaching staff, who said the bus was out of control and they needed assistance to help resolve the situation.

Hargrove said that there were five adults on the bus during the incident, including the bus driver.

During the hearing, school board members and sworn witnesses watched video evidence of the incident gathered from a school bus surveillance system.

Since the incident, Hargrove said the district created protocols to ensure the type of incident doesn’t reoccur. This includes distributing adults throughout the bus and only allowing students to listen to music with earphones.

Hargrove said she does not believe that hazing is a culture of Mingus Union.

Kelly’s 180-day suspension means he cannot attend any of the district’s three schools. This includes Mingus Union High School, the school’s academy and the school’s online program.

Board members considered expulsion in their deliberation.

“At first I wrote down expulsion,” Lozano said. “But I’m totally against ruining anyone’s dreams. Every student has dreams and goals.”

Before the board rendered its decision, Mingus Union board member Lori Drake told the 18-year-old Kelly that though she saw no remorse in him, she does see a bright future in the young man who wants to become a professional baseball player.

School Board President Anita Glazar told Kelly that by watching his body language she “didn’t feel there was any remorse, like we were a joke.”

“You’re 18, you’re accountable for what you do,” Glazar told Kelly.

In November, Kelly signed a Letter of Intent to play baseball at the University of New Mexico.

Kelly and his parents declined comment to The Verde Independent.

The Cottonwood Police Department is also investigating the assault for possible criminal charges.

Bill Helm is a reporter for the Verde Independent. Find the full version of his story online at verdenews.com.

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