Expelled Clovis wrestler gets reinstatement hearing

A Buchanan High student who says he was unjustly expelled for grabbing a teammate's butt cheek while executing a wrestling move will ask a Fresno County education board next week to reinstate him into school.

The county's Board of Education will hear Preston Hill's appeal Feb. 17.

Clovis Unified School District trustees voted unanimously last month to expel Hill, saying he committed sexual battery, had bullied his teammate, committed an obscene act and caused or attempted to cause physical injury to another student.

Hill's attorney, Charles Magill, however, appealed to the Fresno County Office of Education, contending Clovis Unified trustees didn't have enough evidence to support the expulsion.

Magill said Tuesday he was pleased that county education officials acted swiftly in holding a hearing. "Our goal is to get Preston reinstated at Buchanan so he can graduate with his senior class," Magill said.

Hill's case generated widespread attention after the alleged victim told Clovis police that Hill rammed two fingers into his anus during a practice at Buchanan in July. Hill, however, told police he was using a legitimate wrestling move called a "butt-drag" when he grabbed the boy's butt cheek, not his anus.

In addition to being kicked out of school, Hill was charged with sexual battery in Fresno County Superior Court. The criminal charge was dismissed Jan. 27 without Hill having to admit wrongdoing.

The next day, Hill and Magill filed an appeal. Five trustees from the county Board of Education will hear Hill's appeal, said attorney Linda Bacon, who advises the board.

Once the appeal is heard, trustees must decide whether to uphold the expulsion or overturn it. They could make a decision immediately or take the matter under submission for up to three days, Bacon said.

Typically, the board hears about 10 expulsion appeals a year, Bacon said, noting that some expulsion have been overturned.

The board's review of the evidence, however, is limited, she said. In general, trustees review the transcripts from the expulsion hearing to make sure the expelled student received a fair hearing, Bacon said.