I have been talking to experts on hazing in the wake of the FAMU scandal, and one shared conclusion is that college hazing rituals have spread to high schools.
DeKalb County Schools apparently is concerned about that possibility, announcing today that the district is suspending all marching band activities pending an investigation of “possible inappropriate activities” among band members, alumni advisers, band directors and others.
Hazing has dominated the headlines because of the death last month of FAMU drum major Robert Champion. Metro Atlanta sends a lot of students to FAMU, so the death has been felt here, no where more acutely than Southwest DeKalb High school from which Champion graduated.
System spokesman Walter Woods said officials started asking questions at Southwest DeKalb High School because of connections to alleged hazing incidents at FAMU. Robert Champion, the FAMU band member who died, and another member, Bria Shante Hunter, who was injured, graduated from Southwest DeKalb. Two of three FAMU band members charged with injuring Hunter also hailed from the high school.
The system investigation unearthed some troubling finds, Woods said. He was not willing to disclose their nature yet.
Marching band activities countywide, except in special cases such as an upcoming Martin Luther King Day parade performance, will be suspended.
“Our concern is that student safety needs to be assured,” Woods said. “And we have a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or any other inappropriate behavior.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog