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No Recommendation for Expulsion : Beating: A panel wants independent study program for five students accused of attacking two brothers. : SAN GABRIEL


Alhambra City and High School Districts officials have decided not to recommend the expulsion of five San Gabriel High School students suspended for beating up two Chinese-American brothers in an apparent racially motivated attack.

An advisory panel of three school officials reviewing details of the March 19 incident decided that the five students--Armando Mercado, 15, Douglas Ortiz, 18, Joseph Vega, 18, Alex Ventura, 18, and Juan Villasenor, 19--should be required to enroll in an independent study program in the district, said John Kao, a bilingual specialist for the district who sat on the panel.

The school board will make the final decision.

Kao would not say why the panel suggested independent study.

The attack is being investigated by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office as a possible racially motivated hate crime. Initially, the district attorney's office decided not to file any charges because it was unclear whether the brothers had provoked the attack. School officials have denied that there is a serious racial problem at the ethnically diverse high school.

The five students--some members of the varsity soccer team--were accused of beating Andy Chen, 18, and Tim Chen, 15, in the school parking lot. The five were arrested after the incident and later released.

San Gabriel High School Principal Jack Mount asked the district to expel the five students because of the severity of the attack, but the panel "felt there was not enough evidence for us to go along with the principal's recommendation," Kao said.

Kao would not elaborate. Mark Keppel High School Principal Rudy Chavez, another panel member, refused to comment on the matter Thursday.

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