Northwest Indiana schools continue to seek to prevent hazing

photo of bullying

MUNSTER, Ind. (AP) — Some northwest Indiana schools plan to continue reminding students and staff about the consequences of hazing.

Almost all of the region’s school districts enforce an anti-hazing policy that holds students, administrators and faculty members responsible for failing to abide by the rules, The Munster Times reported. Ohio-based company Neola, which helps school systems align their policies with state law, has worked with 29 school corporations in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties and 223 school districts in Indiana.

But hazing still happens in school locker rooms, bathrooms and private homes, according to school officials, police and parents.

Almost two months ago, a freshman at Clark High School in Hammond who was new to the school’s soccer team reported to the principal that he had been sexually assaulted by two teammates in the locker room. Hammond school attorney David Dickson, who investigated the case at Clark, said he interviewed 15 to 20 students and five to 10 administrators.

“We don’t know exactly where administrators were in the building at the time,” Dickson said. “We were working in conjunction with the police department. There could be more discipline charges depending on what more we may uncover.”

Hammond schools Superintendent Walter Watkins said two students have been expelled as a result of the incident.

“There could be additional students disciplined, but these are juveniles. We want to be sure that we act on fact, not emotion,” he said.

Athletic Director Chris Moore said coaches, parents and athletes at Clark High School meet before each season begins to discuss the school’s rules for student athletes, including bullying and hazing.

School officials in Munster, Highland, Portage and Chesterton said students also are made aware of the respective district’s hazing policies.

In Munster, where a 17-year-old member of the swim team reported a hazing incident five years ago, the district has implemented several efforts to raise awareness to the dangers and negative impact of hazing, including presentations on bullying, harassment and hazing, according to Munster schools attorney Kathleen Maicher.

A lawsuit filed by the teen’s family is pending before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in Hammond.

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