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Bellingham Public Schools confirms hazing incident at Sehome High

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

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — An investigation confirmed a hazing incident involving the football team at Sehome High School, according to Bellingham Public Schools. As a result, the school’s football team had to forfeit last week’s game.

Due to student privacy laws, the district will not share details about 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 scheduled to play again on Friday, Sept. 23 at Civic Stadium.

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

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

The investigation found “serious, confirmed student behaviors … that violated harassment, intimidation, and bullying policies,” according to the district. The policies are spelled out in Bellingham Public Schools’ athletic code of conduct.

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

No coaches or staff were there when the hazing happened, Smith said. The district says it has 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 forfeit one game.

“We’re still looking at what consequences may be for some individuals,” said Smith.

A study led by University of Maine researchers found 47% of students have experienced hazing before college.

In a message to families, Sehome Principal Sonia Cole stated that the hazing incident has led to “untrue and unhelpful” rumors being spread in the community.

The district is asking the community for their trust.

“We’re doing our due diligence to look into this, we’re also going to hold people accountable by state policy and district policy, and we’re going to treat it with privacy and dignity so that students can move forward and learn, said Smith.

Bellingham Public Schools has an anonymous tip line. 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 when addressing matters that occur within or between schools.

The WIAA provided the following statement:

The WIAA does require that coaches meet the education standards, part of which are tied to the topics of psycho/social foundations as well as diversity, equity and inclusion. At both our Coaches School event this summer and our AD Fall Workshops, space was dedicated to address harassment, intimidation, and bullying. In addition, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee launched a Discrimination and Harassment Reporting Form last year for individuals to report instances of abuse.

Watch: Former Garfield HS student says he was traumatized by swim team hazing

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