More than half of Greenbrier High School’s boys varsity soccer team will finish the school year at the Columbia County Alternative School.
Eighteen of the team’s 25 players were kicked off the team and suspended from school last week pending a disciplinary hearing Friday morning.
Prior to the hearing, two players withdrew from the school system and 10 others waived their right to a hearing and opted to attend the alternative school. The remaining six went before the school system hearing officer Friday. Four were ordered to attend the alternative school, while two were absolved of wrongdoing and allowed to return to Greenbrier.
The students were accused of drinking alcohol during a team trip to Jekyll Island for a tournament March 14-16. The drinking supposedly took place mainly in hotel rooms. Two of the players, Superintendent Charles Nagle said, also admitted to smoking “spice,” synthetic marijuana.
The mother of one of the underclassmen who had a hearing Friday believes the punishments are inequitable. The seniors’ punishment ends in less than two months at graduation, while underclassmen must attend the alternative school for another semester.
In addition, she said, the students received the same punishment even if they confessed. “The ones that confessed were given the same consequence as those that fought it.”
The woman said her son was pressured and intimidated into taking a few sips of alcohol. The seniors also hazed the underclassman, a practice she said has been a tradition for soccer players attending the Jekyll Island tournament.
“My son was a victim of pressure and hazing and he’s punished until January,” she said.
Principal Chris Segraves said he’s disappointed that his students were put in such a position by breaking the school system code of conduct, but believes the students need to reap the consequences of their actions.
“This was their decision,” Segraves said, “They are the ones that put themselves in this position. And I’m sorry it happened.”
Students who are attending the alternative school “are not allowed to attend any function on campus until their suspensions are complete,” which includes proms, said Nagle, but seniors will be allowed to attend graduation if they’ve met the academic requirements.
The mother also complained that only four chaperones – two coaches, a parent and a bus driver – went on the trip to supervise the varsity girls and boys teams, and Segraves said he and staff are reviewing and amending the school’s travel protocol.
He hopes other students take a lesson from this episode.
“I want folks to learn from it whether it is in our school or any other high school, that this type of action is just not accepted and there are consequences for it,” he said.