TAMAQUA, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — After going into executive session, the Tamaqua Area School Board voted to expel an 11th grade student at Tamaqua Area High School for hazing.
This decision came after an emotional public school board meeting. This is a story Eyewitness News has been following since November 5th when Tamaqua Area High School forfeited their playoff game due to a “situation within the school.”
District officials later confirmed this was a hazing incident involving members of the football team. They said it happened on the evening of Thursday, November 4th in the basement of the football fieldhouse.
Since then, people in the community have been demanding answers and accountability. Tuesday night for the first time, parents were allowed to speak publicly before the school board.
“The stuff that happened in the clubhouse, unacceptable. Shouldn’t have happened. Do I feel there should be accountability from the top down? Yes,” a Tamaqua resident said.
Tuesday night, the Tamaqua Area School Board heard public comment from parents regarding the district’s investigation into a recent hazing incident involving the high school’s football team. The district has not been able to provide more details about exactly what happened, but during the meeting, board president Larry Wittig said the term “hazing” might be putting it lightly.
“I can assure all of you here that the punishment will fit the offenses,” Wittig said.
The main concerns among parents and residents: How did this happen at school? And how will the district prevent this from happening again?
Some parents suggested there’s an underlying culture that needs to be addressed. One man said the incident should be put on the coaches’ record, regardless of whether they were present. He also wanted to know what the school is doing to help the students affected by this.
“Are you going to provide some sort of counseling for the kids that were affected with this, because this was a big incident for these kids and I think a lot of peer pressure played a part in this,” the resident said.
“Those who were superficially involved, passively involved, walked by and knew about it, I hold them as accountable as the perpetrators, personally,” Wittig said.
The father of the victim stood up and asked the public to “trust the process”, saying the situation is being dealt with properly.
“Let these folks do their jobs, let the police department do their job, because the last thing I want is for those responsible not held accountable because there was a rush to judgment,” the victim’s father said.
Wittig says the investigation as well as the hearings are ongoing.