A new state law aimed at ending hazing that went into effect July 25 extends the consequences of hazing down to 7th to 12th graders.
The law was drafted in the wake of an alleged incident at Conestoga High School where football players were accused of sodomizing a freshman player with a broomstick. Previously, the state anti-hazing law applied only to college students not those in secondary schools.
Susan Guerette, a lawyer with the Radnor firm Fisher Phillips, who specializes in education law, said the new anti-hazing law applies to both public and private schools. School districts should adopt policies on it and must provide those policies to all coaches, she said. They must also post their policies to their district websites.
“It is important,” said Guerette. “We’re having a lot of hazing incidents.”
Having the anti-hazing policy tells students “this is a serious thing,” she said. Consequences at the school level could include expulsion and also criminal penalties could be imposed. Also, organizations, such as sports teams could be disbanded or suspended for a season, depending on the severity of the incident.
Asked about why it would apply to students as young as 7th grade, Guerette said, “I think they’re really trying to be proactive in implementing it.”