BIXBY — Police and the Bixby school board say they are investigating amid reports of a possible hazing and assault of a student at a football team event.
Members of the school board held a special meeting on Thursday evening at which they met behind closed doors with their attorney about “a pending confidential investigation of an incident involving certain Bixby High School students.”
After a 90-minute executive session, board members returned to open session but took no action on the investigation.
Multiple sources with direct knowledge told the Tulsa World that a handful of Bixby high school football players have been kicked off the team for the remainder of the season amid the allegations.
Acting on multiple tips, the Tulsa World has twice requested from Bixby Police any report of a possible assault on a student.
Local police in the rapidly expanding Tulsa suburb said that while they have received no reports, they are investigating “a possible incident” anyway because they have “heard the same rumors.”
“As of this date Bixby Police Department does not have nor has an official report been made in reference to what you have inquired about. I can tell you our guys (detectives and school resource officers) are actively pursuing all of the information that we have gathered,” said Assistant Police Chief Andy Choate. “Interviews are being conducted with individuals because our investigators have received information that this person might have been there, this person might have said that. There’s enough information now where a case investigation will be opened.”
Choate said it is possible an assault could have been reported to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and it is not uncommon for there to be a lag in DHS notifying police.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said he would be troubled if no report has been made “because there is a statutory requirement for any adult with knowledge of a physical or sexual assault on someone under 18 to call DHS and/or law enforcement.”
Kunzweiler said such allegations are taken so seriously that there is a standing protocol for law enforcement and DHS to work in concert on investigations of any reports of a child being harmed in Tulsa County.
Asked about the player suspensions, Jay Bittle, Bixby Public Schools’ executive director of athletics, told a reporter: “You’re asking me about a student disciplinary matter, and I can’t comment on any of that. You’ll have to call downtown,” referring to the district superintendent’s office.
Another athletic department source said the school district is required by law to report to police any issue at any time where a student’s health and safety is involved.
The Bixby Spartans football team is set to play in a first-round playoff game Friday in its quest for a fourth consecutive 6A Division II state championship. The Spartans have won the only three titles in the classification since 6A was split into two divisions in 2014.
At the conclusion of the regular board meeting at 11:30 p.m., board President Ron Schnare responded to the Tulsa World‘s request for comment by providing a written statement.
It says the board "went into executive session to discuss with its outside independent legal counsel an ongoing investigation involving certain Bixby high school students. Under state and federal law the district, including its Board of Education and staff, is precluded from commenting on any facts or information involving any students or employees who may be involved in the investigation. As a result throughout this investigation the board and its staff will have no comment on the investigation, including but not limited to the nature and scope of the investigation or the persons or subject matter of the investigation. If, as a result of the investigation, the board is required to take any action, it will do so pursuant to a proper agenda item and in open session. No further comments on this matter will be made by members of the board or relevant staff at this time.“