Male students beginning their freshman year next month at Upper St. Clair High School may have more than just a new school to be nervous about.
Many of them have apparently been hazed this summer by upperclassmen who ordered them to pull down their pants while they were spanked with a hockey stick.
Local parents said they began hearing about the hazing incidents about a month ago but nothing could officially be done until parents agreed to file a formal police complaint.
Parents said they have heard that about 40 of the estimated 180 boys entering their freshman year in August have been hazed in connection with various sports activities, such as football, lacrosse and soccer. About half of those hazed filed complaints with the township police department this week.
Police are also in possession of a video taken by an upper classman during one of the hazing activities.
Because many of the boys instigating the hazing are seniors under the age of 18, it's unclear what legal charges they could face.
But, the district has its own policy aimed specifically at hazing.
"Our goal is to maintain a safe, positive environment for students and staff that is free from hazing. Hazing activities of any type are inconsistent with the educational goals of the district and are prohibited at all times," says the statement.
Students are encouraged to report incidents involving physical or mental endangerment, such as "whipping, beating or branding."
"The administration will investigate all complaints of hazing and will administer appropriate discipline when violations occur. The consequences include an out-of-order, detention and/or suspension, possible recommendation for expulsion, and/or possible criminal prosecution."
Superintendent Patrick O'Toole was unavailable for comment Friday but issued a statement saying that the district is aware that there have been allegations of student hazing this summer.
"From the information gathered thus far, it appears there may have been incidents of senior students paddling entering freshmen," Mr. O'Toole said in the statement. "Both the USC Township Police and the school district administration are investigating the allegations.
"The school district will work closely with local law enforcement, parents and students to address these allegations," he said. "The district has strong policies that address student harassment, including hazing, and will take appropriate action against any violators of these policies."
The district encourages anyone with information to contact principal Michael Ghilani at 412-833-1600 x2829, and the township police at 412-833-7500.
Janice Crompton: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-851-1867.