NewsPinellas County


Former East Lake High School baseball players sue school board claiming harassment, hazing

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jan 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 10:55:17-05

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A lawsuit has been filed against the Pinellas County School Board by the parents of two teenagers who say they were harassed last year while on the varsity baseball team at East Lake High School.

The teenagers say the other players treated them inappropriately after they refused to take part in a hazing incident. Their families say they knew something was not right when their sons started acting differently.

"My son had started changing...his behavior and everything," Charle King said.

The parent of the other player said her son lost interest in a lot of things, but she did not understand why at first.

"He had become real silent.......quiet," Shannon Norwood said.

At the beginning of the season last year the other players tried to force the teenagers to participate in something called the "Oreo Run," according to the lawsuit. They were told to place an Oreo in a private area and race the other players. Then, the losers would have to eat the cookies, the lawsuit says.

One of the teenagers ran away when it happened. The other threatened to call 911.

According to the complaint, things got worse for the teenagers after that, in the form of retaliation and bullying. As well as racial and sexual harassment.

"It's hard for me, a single parent, to raise my son (for) somebody make that nasty stuff to my son," King said.

"You failed my child. You didn't protect my child," Norwood said.

According to the lawsuit, there were some occasions where adults were present.

ABC Action News reached out to the school and they said they cannot comment on pending litigation, but they emailed this statement:

"Pinellas County Schools fully investigated the incident both internally and externally and found there was no negligence on the part of our staff."

According to the parents of the students, their sons now attend a school outside of the county.

"I just hope we can resolve this so no other child that's going to come up has to deal with this, you know," Norwood said.