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Pottsville Hazing Incident

Alleged “Hazing” at Pottsville School Exposes Failed Leadership, Puts Students at Risk

The alleged “hazing” event that occurred on the campus of Pottsville Area High School some time in 2018 is disgusting.

But it’s disgusting on more levels than just the surface.

Yes, it’s appalling that two students could do this to another person, any person. But to do this to a challenged person? It’s foul.

Is This Hazing?

This is not hazing.

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Hazing is done to initiate someone to a group. Things often go too far and people have died from hazing incidents.

This is not hazing. This is abuse. It’s the epitome of bullying. And it’s cruel.

And the fact that this story is only now made public? Even if this is only partly true, what took so long? What is the motivation to hide it?

Leadership and Accountability at Pottsville Area School District

So, let’s look at this incident through the lens it needs to be viewed.

Simply put, What the hell is happening at that school? Who is in charge?

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We’ve been unable to confirm but at least one school administration official has been placed on administrative leave. This should only be the first of many people to leave that school district for good.

UPDATE: AD, Coaches Placed on Leave

In short, any member of the athletics or school staff with any knowledge or hint of knowledge of this incident should resign immediately.

Here’s why.

This so-called hazing incident or incidents occurred during the 2018 high school football season, sometime between August and November of that year. It’s now late-February.

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There were hints that something was awry only around the time of the Schuylkill League basketball playoffs. That’s when a member of Pottsville’s starting team went missing from the lineup. A source with knowledge of the situation says this is because of a 10-day suspension leveled against at least that student.

Does that mean at least one of these students involved in the “football” incident is a member of the basketball team, too? Why would they be allowed to continue playing football and even dream of putting on a basketball jersey?

And is a 10-day suspension a fitting punishment for a student accused of doing something this vile? And what of the timing of it? Does this suspension end just before the start of the District XI playoffs?

Who is making these decisions?

When anyone signs on to be a public employee, they take on a responsibility to protect students as if they’re their own children. This is especially true of school administration officials and school teachers. It’s a massive undertaking and yes, you can’t expect these people — our peers — to control everything.

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But it’s their job and duty to say something when there’s even a hint of something this heinous occurring.

They failed when they absolutely could not.

The Win At All Costs Mentality

What this comes down to is as simple as it can get.

This is a case of so-called adults protecting children in order to win. Win? For who? For what?

As for the students involved in this alleged incident, if it’s proven true, they’ll have a hard time recovering. Scholarship opportunities, once a given, are likely gone.

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Pottsville Area is enjoying a successful sports school year. The football team was better than average and the basketball team is one of the best in the area, if not the state. That will all be forgotten soon.

See, none of that truly matters in real life. Most people understand that. And that’s what these school officials forgot — or never knew.

This alleged incident and the cover-up that ensued only raises more questions:

  • Is this the culture among Pottsville Area athletics?
  • Just Pottsville?
  • Is this an isolated “hazing” incident?
  • And more importantly, is this the same respect any disabled student in the building gets?

We feel truly sorry that anyone endured what is alleged in Pottsville last fall. And we respect their privacy as they try to move past it.

And, for the students who are alleged to have done this act, we hope they’re sorry and remorseful, learn a great deal from it and find a way to be better in their lives.

As far as the fate of the school officials and self-described leaders who helped to keep this a secret for the sake of winning … truly pathetic.

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  1. Wendy Nester

    February 22, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    Shame on all who played this off, shame shame and everyone should know your names! Those evolved should endure what this disAbled person had to endure. My heart and love goes out to the family, I will pray for you. Those at fault are sick, those who left them move on are sicker. How will any parent trust in their child’s safety and well being while playing in any sport at PAHS. Rules work both ways, people should be terminated and no basketball or football for a year or too, screw ur peers the way that person was!!!!! How does one who trusted ever know to trust again. Again my heart love and prayers to that victim and family, and shame on PAHS

  2. Pingback: Pottsville Athletic Director, Football Coach on Administrative Leave After "Hazing" Incident Uncovered - Coal Region Canary

  3. Stacey

    February 23, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Put students at risk??
    They did this to themselves. They should lose everything and never be given the chance to do anything again.
    They knew exactly what they were doing especially the one who held the camera up. I hope the lawyers eats the district alive. There’s no excuse in the world that can help all those involved. They should be penalized to the fullest. Staff fired and not able to collect a penny either. They should all be put on Megan’s Law for ever too. This is way more than bullying.
    Open your eyes and stop coddling all those involved. Nothing here was a “joke or mistake” nothing here was a lesson learned.
    It was staff and students being nothing but ignorant and stupid low lifes.
    The kids should go right to a juvenile detention center or admitted right in Meadows in State College for what they did. Staff should be in prison and plastered all over the news.

    • admin

      February 23, 2019 at 2:10 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Stacey. Appreciate your opinion. Please understand that when we said “Puts students at risk” we meant ALL the other students at PASD who could potentially fall victim to similar incidents and a similar approach from school officials. So, in short, we’re saying the lack of leadership is putting all Pottsville students at risk.

  4. Jennifer

    February 23, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    I just want to know why a 25 year old man was in the locker room with a bunch of kids?? Did this man have clearances to be in the locker room with theses children?? Can anyone answer that?? I’m not sticking for the kids that did this but why was this man in the locker room to begin with??

    • Mary

      February 23, 2019 at 7:51 pm

      He is autistic and the closest he can come to playing on a team is being the water boy and towel boy which he has done for awhile which made him extremely happy just to be involved !

      • John

        February 23, 2019 at 8:42 pm

        It is one thing to be with the team during practices and on the sidelines during games, but then why did the coaches responsible for him let him go and stay in the locker room?

  5. Emily

    February 23, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    Best basketball team in the state?? Your obviously not well versed on HS Basketball. Pretty sure there are many teams in this state that can, hands down, beat Pottsville in basketball and many other sports. So while winning is important there is always better out there!!

    • admin

      February 23, 2019 at 5:03 pm

      “… one of the best …” Top 25 overall in PA and #5 in 5A is pretty darn good but that’s not the point. Success is relative to the school and the team, really.

  6. Pingback: Pottsville Hazing Cover-up - More Than a Football Incident - Coal Region Canary

  7. Jim Cicero

    February 23, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Couple years back e few kids at Pottsville were punished for allegedly changing a few grades. They were investigated, cited, & sentenced. The Superintendent-Jim Galagher-wanted to make an example of what happens to “cheaters”.
    This incident seems far far more serious & one of the kids gets a 10 day suspension. Good for u Zweibel. Where’s your next move: Stone Harbor?

    • Concerned mom

      February 24, 2019 at 4:40 pm

      Sadly it will be stone harbor. Because those brats that did are juniors they will go to the beach in the summer to play basketball at the stone harbor courts courtesy of Craig shields. Unless someone kicks them off the damn team which is obviously what should be done but considering it is pottsville we won’t hold our breath for the right thing to happen…

      • Former player

        February 25, 2019 at 1:26 pm

        As a former player in the basketball program- Craig Shields does not pay for the trip. THE TRIP HAPPENED ONE SINGLE SUMMER!!! It is the Mother’s Boosters that fundraised and made the trip possible. You people really just spew out lies without having any real knowledge of anything.

    • Nikki

      February 25, 2019 at 8:18 am

      Good point, Jim. There was another incident I’m thinking of where a boy selling marijuana brownies was kicked out of school for a year. That was an infraction much less serious than sexual assault! But of course, that boy wasn’t an athlete, and he had no “connections” to get him off. This is totally disgusting and School administration need to see that there will be proper justice for this CRIME!

  8. Robert Voskuhl

    February 23, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    The 25 yo man has been involved with the team since he WAS a student, and has been allowed to continue as a team manager of sorts because it is such a big part of his life. He is the biggest fan those kids could have, and a few idiots treat him so heinously.

  9. Concerned parent

    February 24, 2019 at 9:10 am

    What I don’t understand, as a parent of my own special needs child, how on Earth can the mother of the “alleged” victim not want to pursue this!? She stated “she knew about the alleged incident” but wasn’t sure what happened.. well you piece of trash, don’t you think you should have found out!? Oh!! Wait… I guess when one of the “alleged” perpetrators was your nephew and brother in law I guess you would want to keep it quiet! Shame on you you scum! And the other mother of the “alleged” perpetrator is a doctor of education at the god damn IU!!! If you can’t expect more from your own child being in that role as an educator maybe you should rethink your career choice!! I bet this mother would be wanting an investigation if it were ANY two other players.. what a shit show Pottsville has on their hands!

    • Jake Goodwin

      February 25, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      lady you need to cool down. You have no idea what you’re talking about and you have no personal insight on the situation, get a life, you’re little Johnny is going to be okay. The Situation hasn’t been proven, it probably isn’t true and you are believing an anymore letter that could have been written in the hands of jealousy. You do not know the family so shut your mouth and drive your mini van away from insulting the family Karen.

  10. Jennifer

    February 24, 2019 at 10:43 am

    To even suggest this 25 year old man shouldn’t have been in the locker room is insulting. If he was 17 would it have been justified? These kids involved need to be punished. For the victim and for themselves. They are certainly old enough to know better how to treat another human being mentally disabled or not. If they are not held accountable this type of incident will happen again. They are almost adults it is time to own their actions. To the coaches and anyone else involved in this incident and let it slide
    Shame on you!

  11. William Davidson

    February 24, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Pottsville school district really does have a shit show going on! District officials please be open and transparent with this as it affects the whole Pottsville community! Do a thorough investigation and publish all facts openly! Hide NOTHING!

  12. Pottsville grad

    February 24, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    They will probably get some lawyer to get them off with a smack on the wrist. Maybe the lawyers should ask themselves what if it were my kid who was abused

  13. Pottsville grad

    February 24, 2019 at 10:15 pm

    They will probably get a lawyer to get them off with a smack on the wrist. Maybe the lawyers should ask themselves what if it were my child abused

  14. Christina

    February 25, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Where was the principal, the superintendent, in all of this ? Why are they not being held accountable, they had a duty. This occurred on school property and involved students. The district should clean house, all leading administrative staff in charge made to resign or leave. They were negligent,regardless of the outcome and they have proven they aren’t doing their jobs accordingly. And my heart goes out to the victims. I am saddened we live in such a disgusting world that allows children to be cruel to one another and even more disgusted that adults have allowed or taught them
    To be that way.

  15. TB

    February 25, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    The basketball team has nothing to do with this incident so why even bring it up. Don’t try to drag them down as well. This is a football incident.

  16. Pottsville Grad

    February 25, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    what are u trying to say since it is basketball season he should be exempt from any punishment Really?

    • Trent Barnes

      February 26, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      No im saying this doesn’t have to do with the basketball team so why do they have to get dragged into this. It’s hard enough that one of their best players can’t play but its even worse that people keep linking this incident to the team that doesn’t have anything to do with it.

  17. Pottsville grad

    February 25, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    Jake I do know there family and the accused individual. Was not surprised one bit maybe you should open your eyes

    • Jake Goodwin

      February 26, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      Pottsville Grad,
      You clearly do not well enough.
      And it honestly boils my blood that he is so well described in this, all of you need to SHUT THE F*CK UP. How could you not be surprised?!? Anyone should be. An accused sexual assault should stand anyone’s hair up. My eyes are fine, but this article is trash, everyone’s opinion really is TRASH, BIASED and I can attest, I played sports at Pottsville, I knew the coaches personally off the field, I didn’t play until my junior year and finally I played when I was a senior. WHY, hard work. I also recieved about 10 in school suspensions, 2 out of school suspensions for five days a piece and about 50 detentions. The whole “favorites” and “neoptism” is a joke. Those people making those comments should have worked harder and stop whining too and blaming others because there kid isn’t as good and should work harder too. If this isn’t true will all of you apologize?!? No you will hop on the gravy train again when things are going good.
      Pottsville has a great athletic program, a lot of the athletes in it are taught life lessons. Stop thinking it’s all about winning, it not. I can tell you many times where players couldn’t play because of what they did, in OR outside of school.

      • Joe Devola

        February 27, 2019 at 12:30 pm

        So you are saying that the QB situation last football season had NOTHING to do with the fact that a coaches son won the job? 99.9% of the student body and fanbase felt there was another player much more suitable for the position, a player who proved that when the starter was injured. Do you think that “favoritism” was involved in the coaches not reporting these incidents to the proper authorities? Would the head coach really report the son of one of his assistants, who is also probably a good friend? Thats what happens when you allow a coaching staff of friends and parents of players. You cant tell me Mike Brennan shouldnt have gotten the head coaching job when they hired the current guy. He was just way more proven. From what I heard he was given the job until but the offer was withdrawn when it was learned he wanted to bring in his own coaches. What coach wouldnt want his own assistants. Why would he want leftovers from the unsuccessful regime. I’ll tell you why, because the decision makers wanted to make sure their friends were still allowed to coach. Come on, no one can deny the egregious nepotism in that school. Look at the school board and then look at how many of their relatives are employed with the district. Bottom line, they knowingly do not always hire the best person for the job and this time its coming back to bite them in the ass and they deserve it. What an embarassment.

        • Joe Devola

          February 27, 2019 at 12:48 pm

          I’m not arguing kids talent over a clickbait news article. What I’m arguing is people are making a whole bunch of allegations based on what they actually do not know, and then taking it a step forward and going at the coaches and family’s. Nobody likes to see there family’s names tarnished over the internet and non of you people have the pride to say who you are while stating what you feel, which means you really do no believe in what you’re saying and it’s just a personal thing. None of the players at blue mountain liked playing for Mike Brennan either.

  18. Sad pottsville grad

    February 26, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Sadly it’s who u know as well as ur last name. Seen way too many times, where kids worked their ass off and attended all, but wasn’t a chosen one. Everything is political with pottsville and its who you know and who u blow!!!!!!! It’s very sad. Some kids give all and then some but they sit, I think mothers from another school should pick the teams and vice versa througb a draft day of pickz so no one can influence them.

  19. Wendy

    February 26, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    Sadly it’s who u know as well as ur last name. Seen way too many times, where kids worked their ass off and attended all, but wasn’t a chosen one. Everything is political with pottsville and its who you know and who u blow!!!!!!! It’s very sad. Some kids give all and then some but they sit, I think mothers from another school should pick the teams and vice versa througb a draft day of pickz so no one can influence them.

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