Garfield High School Principal Ted Howard continues to move aggressively against students suspected in a hazing incident that involved about 100 students. The students were discovered at the Arboretum drinking, some wearing diapers and others being pelted with eggs or hit with paddles. More on that bizarre incident here.
A letter sent to parents Friday informed them of his plan for a schoolwide dialogue around hazing and good decision-making. Howard also included an excerpt from the student handbook noting that the consequences of hazing/harassment can include: no school activities for the remainder of the school year, i.e. no senior prom, or walking at graduation as well as suspension or expulsion and/or criminal charges.
Howard followed his words with appropriate action.
From Seattle School District spokeswoman Teresa Whipple this morning:
“We emergency expelled 11 students Friday. Sophomores, juniors and seniors were involved. Emergency expulsion means that students are not allowed to come to school while an investigation is being conducted. This usually lasts no longer than 10 days.
We are continuing to investigate and the results of the investigation will dictate the discipline. We are working on an individual-by-individual basis – not as a group – so if someone is cleared, we would get them back in school right away.
Those who are emergency expelled are banned from campus. They can’t participate in sports or other extracurricular activities.
Students are encouraged to do their class work at home, and to correspond with teachers.”
I’ve talked a number of school leaders in the last few days and all confirm forms of hazing at their schools. But none to the embarassing level of what occurred with Garfield students. All agreed the ritual has gotten out of hand occasionally and they’d like to stop it. But how, they asked me, when parents and students look fondly upon hazing as a rite of passage as innocent as giving a freshman a wedgie.
And then there is the specter of race. Garfield’s principal said he was called derogatory names by some scattering students, including a racial epithet. Yes, Howard is African American. My question: Did the name-calling and racial epithet just accidentally spill from the lips of students hastening to escape or is Seattle not as racially enlightened as residents like to think?