The Central Bucks School District stunned area parents today by canceling the remainder of the Varsity and Junior Varsity football season at Central Bucks High School West due to an ongoing investigation into allegations of hazing activity by football team members and improper supervision by coaching staff.
“The Oct. 24 Homecoming game against Central Bucks High School East and the final game on October 31 will not be played. All members of the Varsity and Junior Varsity coaching staff have been suspended effectively immediately pending further investigation,” said the Central Bucks School District in a statement.
Superintendent David Weitzel stated, “Based on all available, verified information gathered from an ongoing internal investigation into allegations of improper conduct by numerous Central Bucks West football team members, and the failure of the coaching staff to properly supervise activities, swift and firm action is absolutely necessary.”
Weitzel also apologized “to any member of the football program who was subjected to the demeaning actions of fellow players who should have served as role models.”
The District went on to say, “Only recently was it learned that such activities occurred during the football team’s preseason. These allegations were first reported to the District on the evening of October 14. Immediately thereafter, multiple interviews were held over several days with all team members and the entire coaching staff. Information gleaned was discussed with the School Board, administration, district solicitor, and local police to determine appropriate action.
Today I informed all those associated with the Central Bucks High School West football program, coaching staff, and Varsity and Junior Varsity players, that the season is officially suspended, effective immediately. This means that Central Bucks West’s remaining two games, including Friday’s Homecoming game against Central Bucks East, will not be played.
I recognize that this news will be disappointing, and possibly upsetting, to many. However, based on all available, verified information gathered from an ongoing internal investigation into allegations of improper conduct by numerous Central Bucks West football team members, and the failure of the coaching staff to properly supervise activities, I believe this swift and firm action is absolutely necessary.
I offer my sincere apologies to any member of the football program who was subjected to the demeaning actions of fellow players who should have served as role models. As a parent, you need to know the reasons for this season suspension and why it is happening now in the closing weeks of the schedule.
These allegations were first reported to us on the evening of October 14th. Immediately thereafter, multiple interviews were held over several days with all team members and the entire coaching staff. Information gleaned was discussed with the School Board, administration, district solicitor, and local police to determine appropriate action.
Our school district’s highest priority is to safeguard the safety and security of all of our students – from classrooms to playing fields – while providing the highest quality educational experience. The District Code of Conduct and Discipline in place for the past decade specifically prohibits students from engaging in any acts of “hazing and/or initiation ceremonies,” or similar conduct, which “disrupts or interferes with any student’s curricular or extracurricular experiences.” The majority of players, all who are bound to follow the Code of Conduct as a pre-condition for team participation, were in violation through their offensive and disrespectful actions in what were supposed to be pre-season team-building activities. Our inquiry determined that students new to the team were expected to participate in several initiations that were both humiliating and inappropriate. The most personally invasive activity required a rookie to grab another player’s private parts while fully clothed. These initiations took place in front of most team members. I want to be clear that these activities did not result in physical harm, but were not harmless. Players who did not directly participate, but witnessed and failed to report the activities, also violated the Code of Conduct.
All members of the Varsity and Junior Varsity coaching staff have been suspended effective immediately pending further investigation. They must and will be held to a high standard of responsibility and accountability consistent with our rules and regulations.
It is important to take a hard look within and identify areas for improvement. As we move forward, we will be re-instructing players and athletic personnel on all of our sports teams in all of our schools with regard to our Code of Conduct. There will be no exceptions when it comes to compliance. Appropriate team-building activities cannot be permitted to spiral out of control and become hazing. As educators, we must do what is right for all of our students, who deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect.
I am committed to this school district and all of the good that it represents. Please know that we will continue to support the Central Bucks West community as we work through this unfortunate situation.
Please direct any questions or comments regarding this matter to my attention. Thank you.
David Weitzel, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools