DeKalb lifted its suspension on high school marching band activities today, a suspension imposed last month in the wake of the alleged hazing death of a FAMU drum major who had been a member of a noted DeKalb high school band.
However, the county continues to look into whether any incidences of bullying or harassment have occurred in its band programs.
In ending most band activities in mid-December, schools spokesman Walter Woods said, “We need to make sure that the adults responsible for the band, the principal, the band directors are following our policies.’’
DeKalb superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has not yet commented on whether the hazing behaviors documented at FAMU have been found at the high school level. The suspension struck a sour note with parents in DeKalb who had children in marching band. Parents argued that the high schools bands were suffering guilt by association.
The schools chief said the district has “zero tolerance” for hazing or bullying of any kind and it will continue to look into reports of inappropriate behavior in marching bands. The activities of adults in charge of marching band programs are the focus of the probe.
“I want students and parents to know that we are lifting the suspension on marching band activities,” Atkinson said. “We have met with all of our high school principals and band directors to make sure they understand their responsibility and accountability for students regarding our policies when it comes to band activities.”
The announcement ended the suspension that affected all but select band activities at the district high schools that have band programs. The investigation began after two alleged hazing incidents at Florida A&M University involving marching band students who had attended DeKalb Schools.
Robert Champion, who died Nov. 19, was a Southwest DeKalb High School graduate. So is FAMU clarinetist Bria Hunter, who suffered a broken leg in a separate incident. Two of the three FAMU band members who were charged with punching her also attended Southwest DeKalb. The third graduated from Druid Hills High School, also a DeKalb school.
Parents concerned about the secrecy and length of the investigation worried that seniors this year could win fewer scholarships because of the negative publicity.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog