MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — The Middletown Area School District released a statement Monday regarding the reported hazing incident involving the high school football team that occurred on Aug. 11.
Video of the alleged incident was briefly posted on social media and was reported to the school district a day later.
District superintendent Dr. Chelton Hunter said the school district launched an immediate investigation and contacted the Lower Swatara Township Police department.
Dauphin County detectives later took over the investigation at the request of the police department.
According to Hunter's letter, the incident took place when members of the high school football team were in the high school turf room for heat acclimation practice session.
Video reportedly taken during the incident appears to show a group of students holding down two of their teammates. The players allegedly use a muscle therapy gun and another piece of athletic equipment to poke the buttock region of the students on the ground.
According to Hunter's statement, the students were fully clothed and did not appear to be physically harmed or penetrated.
However, he said, the video is "difficult to watch as this is a completely unacceptable, offensive, and highly inappropriate act."
Hunter said the school district interviewed students, reviewed cell phone footage, and contacted authorities.
As soon as the players were identified, they were removed from the football team pending the outcome of the investigation and the completion of the discipline process, according to Hunter.
"Behavior such as that seen on the video simply will not be tolerated," Hunter wrote in the statement.
On Monday, Aug. 15, head football coach Scott Acri resigned, according to reports. The statement also clarified an alleged rumor that Rod Brodish stepped down as acting coach, which the district clarified is false. Brodish is still the acting coach at this time.
According to the district, multiple factors were considered on whether to continue with the football season, including the impact canceling the season would have on the players not involved, marching band, and cheerleaders.
A portion of Hunter's letter appears below.
To be clear, Middletown Area School District will not tolerate hazing, is committed to investigating all reported incidents of hazing, and is actively engaged in pursuing discipline for the students responsible for violating our policies in this case.
The District is cooperating with law enforcement investigators and will continue doing so until the investigation is completed. We are addressing this matter with the utmost sense of urgency to ensure that our school environment is free from behaviors that are meant to demean, humiliate or harm other students.
Once all investigations are concluded, the District will be working to develop additional protocols and supports to promote a positive school climate and culture for all students.
The statement ended by acknowledging that the incident is a serious concern to the school community and district members will do all they can in order to move forward in a positive manner.
The full statement from the superintendent can be found here.