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Tamaqua Expels Student Connected with “Hazing” Incident

larry wittig hazing school board meeting press watching

larry wittig hazing school board meeting tamaqua

Tamaqua Area school board president Larry Wittig provided a few more details into what happened on Nov. 4 among members of the school’s football team in what’s being referred to as a “hazing” incident. (Photo: Coal Region Canary)

A junior at Tamaqua Area High School was expelled Tuesday night after school board members voted to kick them out. The student is one of “several” linked to what’s being called, for now, a “hazing” incident among members of the school’s football team.

Members voted to expel the student during a tense and dramatic school board meeting Tuesday, just 10 days after a student reported being the victim of a “hazing” incident.

“Several” students have received 10-day out-of-school suspensions for their alleged role in the “hazing” incident with further discipline pending a hearing before members of the school board.

While the name of the student expelled is not being released, we did learn more about what allegedly happened back on Nov. 4 at what’s known as the “football house” near the Tamaqua Area football stadium.

Tamaqua Student Expelled for Role in Football “Hazing” Incident

For starters, the “football house” isn’t some fraternity home as the name implies. Instead, it’s a storage facility/locker room that was renovated by the school, which bought the building as an abandoned house a number of years ago.

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The building is located on Coal St., right near the high school and football stadium. The building was purchased because the cost of a proper fieldhouse/locker room would have been too much money at the time the school bought it.

Tamaqua doesn’t have an on-site locker room for its football team. This building provides enough space for students that play football to store their helmets and shoulder pads, items that don’t fit anywhere in the school itself.

And, for the record, we’re continuing to refer to what happened on Nov. 4 as a “hazing” incident because that’s what it’s been called by Tamaqua school officials, despite some in the public insisting it’s not a hazing incident but something more serious.

To that end, during Tuesday’s meeting, board president Larry Wittig said, “These kind of things that occurred, although rare, are intolerable. This was way over the line.”

The Football Team Dinner

larry wittig hazing school board meeting press watching

According to what was revealed on Tuesday night, the “hazing” incident happened following a traditional pre-game football team dinner. Wittig said the team has a dinner on the Thursday night before a football game.

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That week, Tamaqua was scheduled to meet North Schuylkill Saturday night in a District XI playoff game. The game was quickly postponed on Friday when school officials learned of what allegedly happened after the team dinner the night prior.

Wittig said the dinner is held in the school cafeteria. Some students on the football team, he said, who are at the football house prior to the dinner leave their personal belongings there and head over to the dinner. But that’s the last time any member of the school or football team staff are at the football house.

So, after the pre-game football team dinner, students leave the cafeteria and go home. Some stop back at the football house to get their belongings. Wittig said students aren’t supervised after they leave the dinner and that no member of school staff is at the football house after the dinner begins.

“It’s not where you have a coach walking down with every individual student down to that house,” he explained on Tuesday.

Wittig said that’s the moment when the Nov. 4 incident happened, after the dinner as students were leaving and going home. When he revealed that on Tuesday, Wittig suggested the school may look at doing “things differently” in regard to how students come and go from the football house.

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“Maybe we’ll shut the house down completely,” he suggested, which drew a premature applause from some parents in attendance Tuesday. He quickly corrected what he said, adding that by “shut the house down” he meant after the team dinner starts, not entirely.

“Will there be adjustments,” he asked himself. “There may be.”

Football Coaches Not Involved

Wittig promised last week – and reiterated the point on Tuesday – that the school’s investigation knows no end at this point. Anyone with the slightest bit of involvement or knowledge would be questioned.

Apparently, based on what the school has learned so far, no football coaches are implicated that way.

“The coaching staff had no knowledge of this kind of nonsense,” Wittig said.

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Photos: Coal Region Canary

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