NAPA, Calif. - In Napa on Friday, there was a strong reaction to the expulsions of high school students and resignations by football coaches in the wake of reported hazing incidents in 2015 and 2016. We met exclusively with one of the students who was expelled. It's a story you'll see only on ABC7 News.
This is a student who told us Friday that at the time, he thought he did nothing worse than horseplay with his teammates. He told us trusted the system to exonerate him. Now, he says, his life and reputation are ruined.
There has to be a morning after. For Napa High School junior Alan Estrella, part of that involved walking to the gate of a stadium where he will never play football again, in a district that expelled him Thursday night.
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"I feel I was wrongly accused," he said. "I feel like this whole process was rigged from the start."
The board's latest two new expulsions for hazing surprised most people at the hearing.
It's one more reason that many high school students boycotted classes and protested outside district headquarters on Friday, with parents by their sides.
"They are bullying our kids, they're bullying our community," said parent Barend Vinter. "They are the bullies. So my question is - when are they going to be suspended? When are they going to be expelled?"
As school district Superintendent Patrick Sweeney told us on Thursday, parents do not have all the facts. He says the district had no choice, especially with the district attorney investigating a possible 16 victims in two years.
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"There are certain areas that that are mandatory," said Sweeney. "They're called mandatory expulsions in the state of California."
By state code, expulsion would mandatory for the use of a firearm, or a knife, or for sexual assault. But the board charged Estella with battery, bullying, and hazing for an incident in 2015. It would seem that the board might have had some discretion.
"Horseplay with my friends?" he said. "You know, a week of suspension would have been more than enough for me."
That, from a 3.3 GPA advanced placement student who says he had never been in trouble before, and wants to be a chemical engineer. With expulsion, he feels branded and ruined.
"I think the district should have focused more on everyone's best interest, and just not them."