TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. (FOX 13) - Parents of two Pinellas County high school students are on a mission to make sure no other children have to endure what their teens did during an alleged hazing incident at East Lake High School.
In a lawsuit filed by Shannon Norwood and Charles King, it’s alleged their sons were intimidated by other members of their baseball team into the hazing activity.
The lawsuit says it happened at the beginning of last year’s season.
The other team members allegedly pressured the victims into going to a secluded wooded spot behind the baseball fields to participate in a hazing ritual called the “Oreo run.”
The lawsuit describes the ritual in more detail, but Norwood and King say it involved hot sauce, an Oreo cookie, and a race in which the loser is forced to eat something disgusting.
“That’s nasty,” Charles King said. “I would never tolerate my son to do a game like that.”
According to the lawsuit, when their sons said “no,” team members chased one of them through a muddy area, trying to grab him, and yelling insults.
The parents say both teens were harassed for the duration of the season.
“Anger and hostility; I just want justice,” Norwood said. “And because they didn’t participate, they were singled out during the whole baseball season. No one would throw with them. No one would catch with them.”
The parents say, in the suit, their sons were then repeatedly taunted and called the N-word throughout the season.
Their attorney, who filed the lawsuit in Pinellas County, says even after complaining to administrators and coaches: “Nothing was done,” attorney Todd Hoover, of Hoover law said. “Six months ago, we were requited to send a notice. We have not seen their investigation yet.”
Pinellas County Schools says that it “fully investigated the incident, both internally and externally, and found there was no negligence on the part of our staff.”
The parents say their sons ended up having to change schools and the ordeal has taken a financial and emotional toll on their families.
King and Norwood say they hope their lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, will protect other students from this kind of incident in the future.