Alleged student-athlete safety issue forces suspension of Worcester Technical High School football teams

Alleged \student-athlete safety\ issue forces suspension of Worcester Technical High School football teams

Updated: Worcester Tech football players facing suspension, games cancelled in hazing investigation

More than five players on the Worcester Technical High School football team face suspension, and possible criminal charges, as school officials and police investigate alleged acts of hazing.

“Right now we are looking at student assault charges,” said Director of School Security Rob Pezzella in an interview Thursday night.Earlier today, the administration canceled the remaining two games of the team’s season as a result of the investigation. The hazing involved at least one video shared to social media, but officials did not elaborate on the content of the video.Administrators are still investigating, and are asking victims of hazing to come forward. In the interview, neither Pezzella nor Superintendent Maureen Binienda commented on the nature of the assault being investigated — just that it may have risen to the level of assault. Per the student handbook, the investigation could lead to long-term suspensions of students and their removal from school to special programs. Pezzella said suspension hearings will be held in the near future for the students involved.Officials started investigating on Tuesday after receiving a complaint from a guardian, according to Pezzella.

After investigation, administrators found incidents of hazing throughout the season, starting in September up to last week.

At a meeting with parents held Thursday night, school administrators, joined by police and a special prosecutor from the District Attorneys office, addressed a crowd of about 20. The meeting was closed, but after, Superintendent Maureen Binienda said the District Attorneys office will provide special hazing training to students on the football team as well as other sports teams in the school.

School administrators declined to comment on whether or not the police would take action, saying theyve been instructed not to comment on any criminal investigation.Responding by email, Worcester Police Sgt. Kerry Hazelhurst said authorities were looking into the matter “and if at some point in this investigation, either by the school or by us, that it was determined that there was some level of criminal wrongdoing involved, then we will take the appropriate actions.”

Pezzella earlier in the day had announced the suspension of the teams for their final two games of the year because of “student-athlete safety incidents.”At that time, Pezzella said, “Under the direction of Superintendent [Maureen] Binienda, the junior varsity and varsity football teams at Worcester Technical High [are] being suspended for the remainder of the season.”Pezzella said he, along with Binienda and Worcester Tech Principal Kyle Brenner “are investigating complaints of student-safety incidents.”“Due to this investigation,” he said, “it was decided that the suspension of the junior varsity and varsity football season is in the best interest of the school. More information will be forthcoming.”

The Worcester Technical High School varsity and junior varsity football teams have been suspended for the remainder of the season as school officials investigate what has only been described as an alleged “student-athlete safety incident.”

Robert Pezzella, the Worcester Public Schools safety director, confirmed the suspension in an interview Thursday.

School officials, including the superintendent, believed it was “in the best interest of the school” to suspend the teams, he said.

The schedule for Worcester Technical High School indicates the varsity football team was going to play David Prouty High School on Friday.

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