NORWOOD, Colo. —
State anti-hazing laws enacted in the 1990s have had little effect as victims are often reluctant to testify and penalties are mild. While the Education Department hasn't warned schools about sexual hazing, it has offered guidance on bullying, cautioning schools that they can be held liable for tolerating or ignoring it.
"We leave it up to the states to monitor it," said Elaine Quesinberry, a department spokeswoman.
Norwood sits 7,000 feet high on a mesa in the Colorado Rockies, a six-hour drive southwest of Denver. Its single main street, with laundromat and diner, presents a working-class contrast to the lavish Telluride ski and summer resort 33 miles away. The area was once home to Spanish explorers and mountain men. Robert LeRoy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, worked the ranches here more than 100 years ago.
Norwood is so small that its 300 students in preschool through 12th grade attend classes in a single building. The football team fields eight players instead of the usual 11. Still, glass cases lining the school's hallways show off sports trophies celebrating decades of triumphs from basketball to cheerleading.
"Pain is temporary" reads a poster on the wall. "Pride is forever."
Inside the school office is a large framed display of Norwood's victory in the 2011 state wrestling championship.
A year later, in February 2012, members and coaches of the wrestling team boarded a bus to Denver for the state tournament, the culmination of the season. The school principal and local Norwood school officials drove separately to cheer on the team.
The principal's wife, a banker, grew up in Norwood and they met when he moved to town as a high school senior. They dated in college and returned to Norwood about 12 years ago when an opportunity arose to buy an auto repair shop. He worked for the school for 10 years, first teaching computer science and auto repair, and served as principal for two years.