School board adopts policy aimed at hazing
The Kennett Consolidated School District has not encountered any hazing incidents, and last night its leaders took steps to help keep it that way.
At their monthly meeting, the district’s school board members voted to adopt a new policy formally banning any type of hazing in connection with any student activity, whether it occurs on or off school property or outside school hours.
Hazing is known as an initiation ritual in college fraternities and similar organizations. The established members often subject initiates to some form of unpleasant treatment as a type of bonding ritual.
Once tolerated, the practice came into disfavor over the years as injuries and deaths occurred when the rituals got out of control.
Superintendent Barry Tomasetti said scattered incidents in K–12 schools in the region and nation prompted the concern about hazing. The state requires that districts adopt a policy to ban it,
The policy broadly defines hazing as any action or situation that endangers mental or physical health or willfully destroys or removes property as part of an initiation into an organization.
More specifically, the policy bans such things as beating or whipping, forced calisthenics, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of food, liquor, or anything else, sleep deprivation, isolation, humiliating situations, or destruction or removal of property.
Everyone involved in a school activity is prohibited from engaging in, condoning, or ignoring any form of hazing, the policy says. It includes guidelines for informing students, teachers, coaches, and volunteers about the requirements.
Students are encouraged to report any incident of hazing, and supervisory staff have the power to investigate and impose punishments, up to and including expulsion. Adults can lose their jobs with the district for violations. The policy concludes by noting that criminal penalties might also apply.
The policy was adopted unanimously.
In other business, the board members discussed problems with repeated power outages at Bancroft Elementary School. Board member Dominic F. Perigo Jr. said power fluctuations from the PECO lines were tripping the main circuit breaker at the school, and the staff had arranged to have an emergency generator available until the problem could be resolved. Weather-related tree damage caused another outage, he said.
The supervisors also unanimously approved a new KHS UNICEF Club through which students could help support the international organization dedicated to helping children in developing countries.