Haverhill superintendent condemns hazing video at public meeting

HAVERHILL, Mass. — Superintendent Margaret Marotta revealed steps taken by the school district this week, in the wake of a video that appears to show several members of the high school football team brutally hazing another student.

During a school committee meeting Thursday, Marotta said the school instituted counseling support for students affected by the hazing incident, implemented individual safety plans for the victims, and disciplined the students involved. Marotta did not reveal any specifics regarding the disciplinary action.

“The district will not tolerate harassing, hazing or retaliation in any way,” Marotta said. “It saddens me that because of this conduct our entire school community will suffer.”

The video, which Boston 25 first reported on Wednesday, shows three individuals dragging another person across the floor, pulling his clothes off. At one point in the 30-second clip, a fourth individual, wearing only underwear, lays on the victim’s head while others can be heard screaming and laughing.

“This is not boys being boys. This was bullying, violent, and is completely unacceptable,” Mayor James Fiorentini said. Fiorentini called for the students involved to be permanently barred from participating in school sports.

“This is a harsh punishment, but necessary to send a clear and unequivocal message that this is unacceptable,” Fiorentini said.

Marotta and Fiorentini read from prepared statements and did not take any questions during the meeting.

Student Council Vice President Abigail Brown also condemned what was in the video but said the entire senior class is being unfairly punished. Not only is the football season canceled, but seniors were told Wednesday’s annual Turkey Toss even is also called off.

“This is a very disheartening time for the Haverhill community because yearly traditions will have to be put on hold as of right now and this is not the way our Hillies should be behaving,” Brown said.

The school district, Haverhill Police, and the Essex County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the incident.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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