SM East cross-country team members disciplined for hazing freshmen runners

SM_East_ExteriorSome members of the SM East boys cross-country team have been disciplined for hazing freshmen team members during a training run on Aug. 21.

The incident was reported to the school through a bullying app that is on all of the student iPads and laptops, said John Douglass, director of emergency services for the district. He said the report most likely was submitted by a student.

“In the end, there will be people who are disciplined,” Douglass said.

In fact, he said, the school administration has already handed out “the discipline you would expect” but the investigation is ongoing with the potential for additional disciplinary action to be taken. The district would not specify the disciplinary action and did not release the number of students affected by the discipline.

Douglass said that once the report came in, the principal and his staff reviewed it and took the appropriate actions. They followed the district protocol and immediately started their investigation.

“We take any report seriously,” Douglass said. The app, released earlier this year, allows for anonymous reporting of bullying incidents in the school.

The hazing was carried out by upperclassmen against freshmen on the team, the district confirmed.

Sources familiar with the situation told shawneemissionpost.com that the incident occurred in a neighborhood not far from the Corinth Library and was witnessed by residents. One person said that a neighbor in the area had recorded the incident on a cell phone, but Douglass said the district had not been informed of the existence of such a video. The area is a common route for training runs. The hazing came in the form of both physical and verbal abuse, sources said.

Douglass said the district was still determining the level of involvement for many of the team members. There were members who participated in the hazing, members who may have stood by and did not intervene to stop it, and members who may not have known it occurred.

Update: SM East Principal John McKinney sent an email to parents and students late Monday morning recounting that an investigation had taken place that led to “appropriate consequences.” McKinney’s email said he was “deeply concerned” by the incident and apologized to those who may have witnessed it and for any disruption or disrepute that came from the event.

shawneemissionpost.com also was contacted by the parent of a freshman runner late Monday morning who said parents were originally told that offenders would be removed from the team, but that subsequent emails said they would be suspended for two weeks with re-instatement on Sept. 5, which would result in missing one meet. The parent called the level of discipline “disheartening.” The parent also said they were told that a resident in the neighborhood had called in a complaint after witnessing the hazing.