Seven former Middletown football players were expelled after a hazing investigation that led to the cancelation of this year’s football season.
The expulsions were approved during a Middletown Area School District school board meeting on Tuesday.
On Aug. 19, Middletown football coach Scott Acri resigned amid the investigation into a video from August 11 showing students pinning down clothed teammates and poking them in the buttocks with a muscle therapy gun and another piece of athletic equipment.
District officials previously stated they were working with Lower Swatara Township Police and the Dauphin County District Attorney’s office, which are both investigating.
Three Middletown football players’ families have retained lawyers from a Harrisburg law firm that specializes in representing victims of sexual abuse cases.
On Wednesday the district announced new details regarding an anti-hazing initiative.
Phase 1: Response and Intervention
Our School Board will review its policy on hazing.
Our District Athlete Code of Conduct will be updated to include an Anti-Hazing Pledge, effective immediately. All fall coaches and athletes will be required to sign this, and it will become mandatory moving forward.
All athletes and coaches will complete a 2-hour National Federation of High School Sports Anti-Hazing course.
Our administrative team will develop a tiered disciplinary chart for hazing incidents.
We are developing two ways to report hazing – an anonymous electronic form, as well as email reporting. Both will be closely monitored by multiple administrators.
Phase 2: Policy, Education and Reporting
We have arranged for calls from victims of hazing to be expedited by the Transforming the Lives of Children Clinic in Harrisburg which provides counseling.
We will help to facilitate in-home treatment services for students who participated in hazing, if appropriate.
A sports psychologist who specializes in hazing as well as a representative from the Positive Coaching Alliance will speak with student athletes during a voluntary group presentation.
Phase 3: Prevention and Cultural Shift
Middletown Area School District is working with Stop Hazing, a national organization that works with schools, on a three-year intervention and cultural shift collaborative.
Stop Hazing will conduct a data-driven assessment of our District’s current practices and culture, suggest a plan to promote a culture shift, as well as to identify students who are struggling through both individual and group supports.
Middletown Area School District will be incorporating brief mental health and academic assessments of students, known as Universal Screeners, K-12, three times a year, for the 2022-2023 school year. Data from these screeners will then be reviewed by each school’s Student Assistance Team to identify students who are struggling in academic, social, emotional, and behavioral areas.
“We plan to fully involve students in these initiatives and will ensure that all of these efforts are approached in a positive rather than a punitive manner,” said Dr. Chelton Hunter, Superintendent of Middletown Area School District. “Ultimately, we want our students to feel great about coming to school and being a part of sports and extra-curricular activities.”
In response to the Middletown news, a nearby school has already offered opportunities for the band and cheerleading teams to perform.