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Team remains on 'hiatus' during investigation

Hazing allegation subject of Place High inquiry
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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The Placer Union High School District's investigation is continuing into hazing allegations at Placer High School involving the boys junior varsity basketball team.

The team was to play its first game of the regular season Tuesday but all members remained on hiatus from play, with several athletic staff members on administrative leave from their athletic responsibilities during the the investigation, a district spokeswoman said today.

"The JV basketball program hiatus and staff placement on administrative leave should not be interpreted as reflective of findings regarding the accuracy of the allegations," district Public Information Officer Kristin Conner said in a statement released this afternoon. "Factual findings have not yet been made. Rather, these protective measures ensure that a thorough investigation may be conducted."

Maintaining confidentiality is critical to protecting the privacy of the complainant or complainants, and to ensuring the integrity of the investigation, she said.

The actions by the district were made public Dec. 26, on the eve of the Auburn school's prestigious Kendall Arnett basketball tournament. Varsity coach Mark Lee, who also serves as the school's athletic director, did not coach the team and the freshman team played in a sub-tournament in place of the junior varsity team.

The Journal reported last week that Auburn Police are also investigating the allegations at the request of the district, with the department's school liaison officer involved in fact finding.

"The cooperation of the witnesses and their respect for the privacy of those involved is acknowledged and appreciated," Conner said today. "Recent media reports have relied on sources who are not involved in the investigation, and who do not have first-hand knowledge of the situation."  

School and district administration will take the appropriate action in response to the factual findings, she said

"Please rest assured that our primary focus is on the safety and well-being of all," Conner added