PEABODY – Superintendent Josh Vadala announces that an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding an online video involving the Peabody High School football team has been completed.
On Saturday, Nov. 27, a parent approached a school official regarding a video that was circulating among students on social media that purported to show members of the football team engaged in inappropriate conduct.
An investigation was launched immediately, and identified multiple students involved. Administrators met with those students and their parents/guardians to determine the facts of what occurred.Students and family members cooperated fully.
The District’s investigation found that student-athletes on the football team entered a locker room following practice on Nov. 18. The student-athletes were not authorized to be in the locker room without the supervision of coaches or athletic staff.
In the video student-athletes simulated sexual activity while clothed. One student-athlete is heard on the video using racial and homophobic slurs.
The investigation found that the student-athletes violated both school policies and athletic codes of conduct, but found that behavior did not meet the legal definition of hazing or bullying.
Consistent with district policies and procedures, the Peabody Police Department high school resource officer was notified. The Peabody School Department is cooperating with that Department’s investigation.
The student-athletes involved have been disciplined in a manner consistent with student and athletic handbooks. Peabody Public Schools are also working to determine an appropriate level of discipline for the coaching staff related to violations of school policies regarding student-athlete supervision.
Consistent with District policy, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association was notified.
“We do not tolerate this type of behavior. Our school culture should reflect our best nature, of kindness and respect rather than inappropriateness, and we will make sure that students understand the impact their actions have on others,” Superintendent Vadala said. “We took this matter seriously from the onset and addressed it in a manner consistent with our policies, procedures and values as a school community.”
The Peabody Public Schools now will require additional training for all student-athletes and all coaches on recognizing, preventing, and responding to hazing and bullying. The District also will initiate a program of outside speakers who will address all students on hazing and cultural competency.