Wall, NJ, School Board silent as parents demand answers in hazing probe
Parents and students packed the Wall Township Board of Education meeting Tuesday night looking for answers regarding allegations of hazing among members of the high school football team. They left angry and frustrated.
Nearly 100 community members packed into the high school cafeteria for a meeting that lasted over five hours. Some expressed sympathy for players that were not involved who got caught up in the scandal. Others called the incident "embarrassing."
Members of the school board sat silent.
One female student, her voice shaking with emotion, told the board, "I personally am terrified to go to school now. It's scary to walk through these hallways knowing there are people who are being assaulted."
"What about all the other kids who have been assaulted that you don't know about yet?" she asked the board.
Again, the board said nothing.
The district has come under harsh criticism from some parents who insist the hazing incident simply underscores a larger pattern of abuse and bullying in the school and community.
Before the public comment period, Wall Schools Superintendent Tracy Handerhan asked community members and the media to "remember the matter at hand (hazing allegations) involves children." As a result, Handerhan said she and the board were "legally precluded" from discussing any details of the alleged incident or the ongoing investigation.
The board meeting was held the same day it was revealed that seven students had been suspended 10 days for "hazing and conduct unbecoming a student."
Before members of the community were invited to speak, the board approved several hires to replace personnel that had been placed on leave in connection with the hazing incident, but the board again offered no comment or open discussion on those matters.
Former state Superior Court Judge Deborah Gramiccioni, now a private practice attorney representing several Wall High School students, told New Jersey 101.5 "There appears to have been a rush to judgment" by school officials and worried kids not connected to the incident were being tarnished by it.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor continues to investigate the incident, but has brought no charges and has revealed no details.