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SAD 46 directors to discuss Dexter football hazing incident tonight

By Bill Pearson, Piscataquis Observer

DEXTER, Maine — The SAD 46 board of directors will discuss tonight what new policies they may want to adopt regarding student overnight stays in their schools before moving into an executive session to receive an update about the Nov. 17 hazing incident that led to 12 Dexter Regional High School football players being suspended.

Superintendent Kevin Jordan plans on updating the board about the investigation into the incident, which revealed that 12 upperclassmen hazed the freshman members during an overnight team-building exercise inside the school around 4:30 a.m. Nov. 17.

Jordan reported that five separate hazing incidents occurred based on surveillance video evidence and interviews with the football players.

“We are still investigating the matter. All the football players have been interviewed and 12 athletes have been suspended based on their actions,” Jordan said. “In addition to the suspensions, the entire football team and coaches will be required to perform community service. But I don’t think there is a guarantee that any coaches will face any additional penalties or suspensions.”

Dexter Regional High School administrators are expected to complete their investigation this week. They have interviewed all the football players who attended the team building exercise held in the school last month. School administrators have also interviewed three of the five coaches who participated as chaperones. The final two coaches interviews were expected to be completed by Tuesday.

“Two of the coaches were given permission to leave early and I think a third one left as well,” Jordan said. “We need to find out why this happened and do a better job at clarifying what is expected of chaperones during an overnight activity.”

Eight of the 12 suspended football players have returned to school. The other four players were given 10-day suspensions, which expire on Thursday. Two players were given seven-day suspensions and two others received a one- and two-day suspension.

The sleepover was supposed to be a fun night for the football team, which had completed its most successful season in recent history. Dexter posted a 6-2 record this fall and made the Class C playoffs for the first time in three years. Team officials planned an activity night in the school that included playing the Madden football video game on a big screen television in the cafeteria along with basketball and volleyball games in the gymnasium.

But the fun ended for the freshman members when the older players decided to initiate them. Principal Steve Bell was alerted about the incident on Nov. 18 when several concerned parents called him. School officials viewed three of the five incidents on the security video. The other two incidents occurred in the bathroom and locker room areas, which have no video surveillance. But school administrators were able to see the students enter and exit the bathroom and locker room on video.

Jordan doesn’t recall if the football team has ever held such an activity night in the past, but he did confirm that other student organizations had. The other groups have successfully used the event to build camaraderie within their ranks. He indicated the board’s discussion tonight would review how to better define the roles and duties of chaperones during future events.

“We are going to discuss how to go forward with these type of requests and the role of the chaperones during the open session. Then we will talk about the hazing incident and the investigation during executive session,” Jordan said.

The Dexter Police Department is also investigating the incident. The department is interviewing students and coaches about what occurred during the hazing incident. Dexter Police Chief Kevin Wintle expects his department to conclude its investigation by Friday.

“We were notified by one parent about the incident. There have been numerous interviews conducted and we are in the process of completing them. The students are all juveniles and if any assault charges are filed they would be heard in juvenile court at the Newport District Court,” Wintle said.

The SAD 46 board of directors will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5 in the Ridge View Community School cafeteria.

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