School board adopts pol­icy aimed at haz­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Matt Free­man For 21st Cen­tury Me­dia

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,

he said.

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.

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