Hesston principal, students can avoid criminal charges after incident
HESSTON — A high school principal who allegedly threw a baseball bat at a car filled with students may be able to avoid criminal charges — as can the students in the vehicle — if an agreement with the county prosecutor can be reached to employ the services of a conflict resolution program.
Tyler Rhodes, 44, of Hesston, is alleged to have thrown a baseball bat at a moving vehicle in a Hesston neighborhood on Sept. 27, 2020. Rhodes is the principal of Hesston High School.
The vehicle was occupied by six students of Hesston High School. The students involved are alleged to have been driving recklessly.
“This is an unfortunate situation where all parties involved made poor choices that put the safety of each other, and the community, at risk,” Harvey County Attorney Jason Lane said Wednesday in a prepared statement.
No injuries were reported in the incident.
In lieu of charges, Lane has provided each individual involved in the incident the option to participate in a restorative justice process. Restorative justice programs enable all individuals impacted by the harm caused by an incident to be directly involved in responding to the offenses.
With trained professionals serving as facilitators, the parties gor through a process by of meeting together to seek accountability for actions, reparation for loss and full participation of all impacted.
According to Lane, participation in the restorative justice program would defer charges being filed against each person on an individual basis. All seven individuals involved in the incident have received the option to participate. The program is not dependent onall individuals agreeing to take part.
According to Lane, the prosecutor's office will reconsider filing charges from the incident for any individual who declines participation in the restorative justice process.