TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read):
- Pottsville school officials trying to separate themselves from the public.
- Incident exposes the problems of nepotism at the school.
- Tide basketball shouldn’t have allowed suspended student to rejoin team last night.
- School officials at Pottsville aren’t qualified to lead, conspired to cover up serious bullying incident.
- Pottsville admits something happened by enforcing suspensions to the end, suspending school administration.
The Pottsville boys basketball team opened the PIAA state playoffs with a win on Friday night.
But at the same time, the community lost.
Don’t worry; this isn’t your Tide team. It’s theirs.
The so-called hazing incident is only getting worse.
How? On Friday, one of the students suspended for that “hazing” incident returned to the basketball court. He missed the Schuylkill League and District 11 playoffs before this while serving his out-of-school suspension.
That’s because a week ago, the Pottsville Area School District announced it concluded its investigation. And when the suspensions against the students were complete, they could return to school as though none of it happened.
Pottsville Controls the Story But Can’t Control the Kids
By controlling this outcome the way it did — keeping it in-house — Pottsville gets to control the story.
Now, what was accused in that anonymous letter isn’t “the facts”. Why? Because Pottsville says so.
And they’ll never say what happened.
The victim will never speak in this situation. He’s still part of the athletics department … around the same people!
THEY will say … it’s not “like none of it happened”. The students served the suspension. We bet you’ll hear that counseling or some other type of sensitivity training is involved. It’ll probably be something you’ll pay for, whatever THEY decide.
We’re at this point because the parents of the victim wanted to seek a “positive” outcome for everyone involved. While that’s fine inside their little circle of friends — including among the most “powerful” at the schools — this is a public school. And the public has its own rules and its own set of outcomes. These are rules others must live by. These are the rules that your kids need to follow.
And you know they don’t have the same luxury that the students involved in this hazing (not a hazing) incident have been afforded. And it just doesn’t work like that.
Where would your kid be right now if there was even a hint of accusation like this against them?
The school is separating itself and this incident from the rest of us.
This is THEIR school, not yours. This is THEIR football team and THEIR basketball team, not yours. They want you to show up and cheer THEM on. Are THEY the best representation of the Pottsville community?
Time to Drain the Swamp at Pottsville Area School District
This “hazing” incident exposed Pottsville’s biggest problem(s). A complete lack of leadership and accountability. And every minute these students log on the court or field, every minute more these “leaders” “inspire” your children, the problem gets worse.
Conspiring to Cover Up a Sexual Assault, Not a “Hazing”
No one has learned anything here. They ALMOST learned how to get away with it.
The hazing was no secret. Rather than leading and setting a positive example, untold “leaders” at Pottsville Area School District — both those employed by the District directly on a full-time basis and those others lurking in the halls for athletics reasons only — conspired to cover this up and protect their own.
By enforcing the suspension, the school admits something DID happen. Otherwise, why suspend the students?
Something clearly did happen. Otherwise, why put two “leaders” in the school on administrative leave? That’s Eric Rismiller, the school’s athletic director, and Rusty Yost, a football coach and Dean of Students at the high school.
A source close to the situation tells Coal Region Canary that someone came to Rismiller with news of this “hazing” incident. Rismiller points to Yost to investigate. He comes back to the Athletic Director saying there’s a problem. Let’s call it a conflict-of-interest.
And from then on, presumably, the cover-up was on. Actually, it was on when any other students who didn’t participate in the heinous act accused in that anonymous letter didn’t say something. But they’re KIDS. They’re supposed to make those bad decisions. Once an adult finds out, it’s on them to do something about it.
And by do something, it doesn’t mean keep it quiet. Either they’re really good at keeping a big secret or they’re really good at getting everyone’s story straight.
But from that point on, and from when everyone else learned of it and did nothing … what a shame.
Every time they looked at the victim and they looked at the people who did what they did to him … not a peep.
It’s one thing to keep quiet about some things you see. Petty stuff.
But this? If you think it makes an episode of SVU … you say something. You don’t wait. Not today. Not when you let people call you a leader or you call yourself a leader.
Punish It? Pottsville Celebrates It
Earlier, the Canary presumed the timing of the suspensions of these students was conveniently wrapped around the timing of the basketball playoffs. We may have missed exactly what playoffs but we still think this came out when it did so it didn’t upset the timing of the basketball playoffs.
One of the students suspended for his role in the incident certainly thinks so. Although, we still can’t understand the lawsuit “K.S.” filed against the school. Don’t they realize the school kept it quiet for so long for their benefit?
Or do they really take that “permanent record” stuff seriously?
Pottsville looked at this situation as a chance to get this “out in the open” once and for all. Crazy how the investigation into this big secret — among a team with “a lot of players” according to the superintendent — got wrapped up so quickly. Incredible on the surface, but easy when the result is pre-determined. A total farce.
Since they won’t say what the investigation revealed, we just assume they used that down time to get the story straight for the school board meeting.
Pottsville was able to keep it quiet through the remainder of the football season and most of the basketball season. And when they had to deal with it, they artfully weaved this around the schedule so as not to throw off their chance at states.
Identifying the Swamp Creatures
At the most recent Pottsville Area school board meeting, the President of the board, Rismiller’s sister, did not go in for an executive session of the board. That’s a time when board members typically discuss personnel matters out of the public eye. You don’t need Encyclopedia Brown to figure out they were talking about her husband in there.
If the president of the school board can’t participate in an investigation of this gravity, what’s the point of being there?
An Athletic Director’s job is not to direct the narrative of a cover-up.
The other member of the school administration who was put on administrative leave DID actually come back and report what he found. Credit that. That’s a tough pill to swallow. But then don’t watch the people around you protect them. Do the right thing.
At some point, word of this incident gets around. According to that anonymous letter — probably the most credible piece of evidence in this investigation outside of a fearless eyewitness — a lot more people than just these two school administration officials knew about it.
And this went from one season to the next. No, this isn’t just a football incident. This is a school incident. It was a football incident and should have stayed a football incident.
But when basketball season started, and some of the same coaches and all the people involved in the incident switched uniforms, it became a basketball incident. Why? No one did the right thing.
And to suggest that maybe some of them didn’t know until basketball season, consider that all these people work together every day. Schools are active rumor mills but rumors like this don’t float around every day.
Remember, they want you to believe this is just about them. They’ll handle it and make sure everyone learns their lesson. The 10-day suspension is your red meat. It’s their proof to you that they did something about it.
Rather than doing the right thing and telling these students their playing days were over, they ignored that and said, Roll Tide.
ALSO READ …