LUTCHER, La. (AP) — Three football players at a Louisiana middle school have been expelled and arrested on criminal hazing counts and their coach has been ousted.

The Advocate reported that the actions centered on two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old at Lutcher Middle School.

St. James Parish sheriff’s deputies said this week that they arrested the boys over accusations that they hazed six students in the middle school football locker room earlier this school year.

Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. released a statement saying hazing acts “ranged from victims being beaten with belts, victims being stuffed into garbage cans and victims forced or beaten to say racial words.”

School officials alleged at least one of the expelled players had pestered others to use a derogatory term for Black people. One of the students is white. Two are Black.

Attorney Wilbur Reynaud, representing one of the youths, and the parent of another of the accused students disputed the allegations, saying they were false or nothing more harmless than locker room horseplay.

During an expulsion hearing for one of the other students Tuesday, Reynaud claimed most student witness statements presented to the School Board were written by school officials who interviewed 12- and 13-year-old students without their parents present.

The Advocate obtained and reviewed the challenged witness statements and reported that some weren’t first-person accounts. Some, the newspaper reported, appear to restate a question posed to a student by someone else and provide that student’s answer.

The School Board unanimously upheld the expulsion of Reynaud’s client on Tuesday night. The School Board upheld the expulsion against another child on Oct. 11, the mother of that child said.

Martin said the criminal portion of the cases has been turned over to District Attorney Ricky Babin’s office.

The ousted middle school coach declined to comment and said he was speaking with a lawyer.

Sheriff’s deputies have not said when the arrests occurred but said school administrators had contacted them on Sept. 16 about prior incidents.