The Middletown Blue Raiders will not be playing football this season.
Superintendent Chelton Hunter told parents in a letter Wednesday after he said additional video showed the hazing incident being investigated by Dauphin County police was not isolated and more widespread than previously believed.
“In light of this, we have made the decision to cancel the 2022 football season,” he wrote. “I know this decision will be met with mixed opinions and will affect many students and families.”
Hunter called the incidents “reprehensible.”
His letter came just two days after he said in a statement that the school previously considered canceling the season but decided not to do so given the effect it would have on the football players who are not participating, as well as the school’s marching band and support team.
He said Wednesday that he made the decision after receiving additional video showing another hazing incident during the team’s week of acclimatization to the heat, which began back on Aug. 8. He wrote that the video “demonstrates that this hazing was much more widespread and affected many more people. students than we knew before.”
Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo told PennLive nearly two weeks ago that his office was working with police to investigate hazing in the program after the naturalistic videos surfaced online. A psychologist who specializes in high school violence told PennLive that the videos were a “clear” incident of “sexual hazing.”
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Middletown has not let up since the investigation began, practicing over the past week and the team had a scrimmage against Northern on Saturday. Scott Acree, who was hired before last season to coach the team, resigned last week and was replaced by Rob Brodish as interim coach for the season. The Blue Raiders were scheduled to open the regular season Friday against Lower Dauphin.
But after the latest video, it won’t happen this season, and Hunter said in his letter that Chardo and police now have to look into it even more.
“We have shared the new video with law enforcement and will continue to work to complete our own investigation,” he said. “Any students found to be involved in this incident will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with our student code of conduct and hazing policy. Any staff found to be ignoring this type of hazing will also be subject to disciplinary action.”
“This simply cannot and will not be tolerated,” he said. “We know we have to work on the culture of this team, educate our students about hazing, and put programs in place to help us ensure that this type of atmosphere never exists in our schools.”
Hunter said administrators are working to find other opportunities for the school’s cheerleaders and marching band for the fall. And he said the district will make alternate plans for Homecoming.
“Again, I know this is hard news,” he said. “We will work to bring our school community together in a positive way as we move forward into the new school year.”
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