Wall schools deal with ‘mounting frustration’ amid hazing rumors
WALL TOWNSHIP — Mental health counselors were on hand Monday, as the township's high schoolers dealt with questions stemming from a "hazing" incident involving the football team, as well as another accused sexual assault involving a student.
In an open letter posted online Friday, Wall Township Schools Superintendent Tracy Handerhan said that social media posts and news media reports were part of a “circulation of misinformation."
She also said she understands "mounting frustration when questions are met without answers due to mandated confidentiality."
The school has only confirmed there is an investigation underway into the hazing incident — which also was to be addressed in some capacity at the Wall Township Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night.
The agenda for that public session, already moved to the high school auditorium in anticipation of a crowd, includes a report from Handerhan, but mentions nothing else.
Accusations amid privacy concerns
The reported locker room incident was first reported by NJ.com, citing parents involved in the investigation, who said that six upperclassmen athletes had been seen in a video, pinning down a younger athlete and threatening to sexually assault him with the handle of a mop or broom.
Neither the school district nor the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office have disclosed any details about the incident, citing confidentiality rules meant to protect the privacy of underage defendants.
“Please recognize that all student and personnel matters must remain confidential so as not to compromise the safety and well-being of WTPS students," the superintendent said in the same Friday letter.
One of the students implicated in the locker room hazing, has also been accused of sexually assaulting at least one girl in an unrelated incident. That student had been released from custody as of Thursday.
Because he is underage and has not been charged as an adult, neither New Jersey 101.5 nor law enforcement officials will publicly release his name.
The locker room accusations led to the abrupt end of Wall's football season, with the cancellation of a playoff game Friday against Delsea.
The NJEA also told News 12 that several coaches who serve as teachers have been suspended.
A team from the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County was to be at the school on Monday “to assist the Wall High School community with immediate mental health and wellness needs of students and staff during this difficult time” and develop a long term student wellness strategy.