Students sentenced in bus incident

WOODSTOCK – Seven Strasburg High School students charged with misdemeanor assault or battery by mob pleaded guilty in Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Thursday and were sentenced to 25 hours community service, The Northern Virginia Daily has learned.

A source with detailed knowledge about the case confirmed information about the sentence, which also requires the defendants to watch a video with an anti-hazing, anti-bullying message.

Most cases heard in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in Virginia are conducted in closed courtrooms and records, including those from sentencing hearings, are kept from public view.

The defendants were charged after an investigation by the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office into a report of a student being assaulted on a school bus carrying members of the boys’ junior varsity and varsity basketball teams. The bus was traveling back to Strasburg from games in Moorefield, West Virginia, on Dec. 19.

Shenandoah County Public Schools officials say they received a report of the incident in early January and immediately turned it over to law enforcement officials for investigation. The Sheriff’s Office and Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda McDonald Wiseley later determined there was not enough evidence to charge the defendants with sex-related offenses, contrary to characterizations of the incident by school system officials and an outside attorney hired by the school system under a federal civil rights law.

Disciplinary actions against several students connected to the incident remain pending before the School Board. The incident has also resulted in four school employees losing contracts that had allowed them to coach and lead other extracurricular activities.

A recently completed investigation by the Frederick County Department of Social Services concluded that accusations of abuse and neglect by coaches traveling on the bus were unfounded.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com