Bellingham Public Schools confirms hazing incident at Sehome High

The district says an investigation found “serious, confirmed” haze. As a result, the school’s soccer team had to abandon last week’s game.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — An investigation confirmed an incident of bullying involving the Sehome High School football team, according to Bellingham Public Schools. As a result, the school’s soccer team had to abandon last week’s game.

Due to student privacy laws, the district will not release details of what happened. The school district said they spent this week working with the football program to address what they discovered during the investigation.

The team is expected to play again on Friday, September 23 at Civic Stadium.

The district first received reports last week of bullying involving members of Sehome High School’s football team, said Dana Smith, the deputy communications director for Bellingham Public Schools.

“Our school and district leadership immediately began the investigation,” Smith said.

The investigation found “serious, confirmed behavior by students … that violated harassment, intimidation and bullying policies,” according to the district. The guidelines are set out in the Bellingham Public Schools Code of Sporting Conduct.

“What we can confirm is that the majority of the team was aware of the event,” Smith said.

No coaches or staff were there when the chicane happened, Smith said. The district says it worked closely with the coaching staff throughout the investigation.

Kevin Beason has been the varsity football coach since 2017. His team had planned to be on the field last Friday night, but the district says the decision was made to lose a game.

“We’re still evaluating what the implications of this might be for some individuals,” Smith said.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Maine found that 47% of college students had some experience of hazing before college.

In a message to families, Sehome director Sonia Cole said the harassment incident had prompted “untrue and unhelpful” rumors to be spread in the community.

The district asks for the trust of the municipality.

“We are doing our due diligence to investigate this, we will also hold people accountable through state and county policies, and we will treat it with privacy and dignity so that students can progress and learn.” ‘ said Smith.

Bellingham Public Schools has an anonymous tipster hotline. The district encourages students who believe they have been the victim of harassment, intimidation, or bullying to report it.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, known as WIAA, serves as a resource for schools on issues arising within or between schools.

WIAA issued the following statement:

The WIAA requires trainers to meet training standards, some of which are tied to psychosocial foundations and diversity, equity and inclusion. Harassment, intimidation and bullying was a theme at both our Coaches School event this summer and our fall AD workshops. Additionally, over the past year, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee introduced a Discrimination and Harassment Report form that individuals can use to report instances of abuse.

Watch: Former Garfield HS student says he was traumatized by bullying on the swim team Bellingham Public Schools confirms hazing incident at Sehome High

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