MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — A Pennsylvania school district canceled its 2022 football season just before it started due to widespread hazing.
According to a letter from Middletown Area School District Superintendent Chelton Hunter, the school district obtained video from an additional hazing incident involving more students in the heat acclimation room.
“Unfortunately, this video demonstrates that this hazing was much more widespread, and involved many more students than we had previously known,” Hunter said in the statement.
The original video from August 11th showed students pinning down two students and poking them in the buttocks with two different objects on school property during a team practice.
The school has shared the video of the additional incident with law enforcement officials and will continue its own investigation as well. The students who have participated in the incident will be disciplined in accordance with the student code of conduct and hazing policy, according to the school district.
Hunter’s statement also explains that any staff member who was found to have ignored the hazing will also face discipline.
“The kind of hazing that occurred in our facilities with this team is reprehensible. It simply cannot and will not be tolerated,” Hunter said. “We know we must work to address the culture of this team, educate our student body about hazing, and put programs in place to help us ensure that this kind of atmosphere is never allowed to exist in our school facilities.”
Middletown Area School District says it will work to find other opportunities this fall for the cheerleading team and marching band, who are both impacted by this season’s cancellation.
“I know this decision will be met with many different opinions and emotions and will impact many students and families,” Hunter said.
In response to the Middletown news, Steelton-Highspire Superintendant Mick Iskric confirmed with FOX 8 sister station abc27 that his district has invited Middletown’s marching band and cheerleaders to join their high school on the sidelines for all home games. He is waiting on confirmation from Middletown.
“I spoke with Dr. Hunter – Chelton Hunter today in regards to it, and the way I put it was we’re rivals, but we’re neighbors. So whatever we can do to help and you know, I look at it, whereas, you know, with my own daughters, I would want them to have every opportunity possible,” Dr. Iskric said.
He says they are working on trying to get them for away games too, but some additional logistics are involved before it can also be offered.
Middletown was set to kick off the 2022 football season on the road against Lower Dauphin at Hersheypark Stadium. Lower Dauphin was unable to find a last-minute opponent and is seeking an opponent for the end of the season.
“We apologize to our students, parents, and fans for this last-minute change to our schedule. Our thoughts are with Middletown as they navigate this difficult situation,” Lower Dauphin said in a statement.