SUPERINTENDENT LETTER - 9/7/22

SUPERINTENDENT LETTER - 9/7/22
Posted on 09/07/2022

Letter from Dr. HunterDear Parents/Guardians,

I hope this note finds you enjoying the start of school, as everyone settles into new routines and rhythms. It’s been great to see our classrooms filled with students once again.

I wanted to share with you the steps the District is taking to address climate and culture on our sports teams and in our schools after discovering the very upsetting hazing incident involving our high school football team. As an administrative team, we have worked to develop a three-tiered approach that I’ll share in this letter. Some steps will be implemented immediately, while others will be phased in over the next several months.

The administration and staff recognize the importance of fostering a supportive and positive school climate and culture throughout every area of our District – in athletics, and beyond. We know that fostering that environment also involves addressing students who act in a bullying manner toward other students. We also know that we can’t do this alone and will need support from the adults who are integral to our District, our students, and our community.

I look forward to continuing to communicate with you about our initiatives, and to working with you on these endeavors. Please take a moment to read this summary of our plans:

Phase 1: Response and Intervention

  • Our School Board will review its policy on hazing.
  • Our District Athlete Code of Conduct will be updated to include an Anti-Hazing Pledge, effective immediately. All fall coaches and athletes will be required to sign this, and it will become mandatory moving forward.
  • All athletes and coaches will complete a 2-hour National Federation of High School Sports Anti-Hazing course.
  • Our administrative team will develop a tiered disciplinary chart for hazing incidents.
  • We are developing two ways to report hazing – an anonymous electronic form, as well as email reporting. Both will be closely monitored by multiple administrators.

Phase 2: Policy, Education and Reporting

  • We have arranged for calls from victims of hazing to be expedited by the Transforming the Lives of Children Clinic in Harrisburg which provides counseling.
  • We will help to facilitate in-home treatment services for students who participated in hazing, if appropriate.
  • A sports psychologist who specializes in hazing as well as a representative from the Positive Coaching Alliance will speak with student athletes during a voluntary group presentation.

Phase 3: Prevention and Cultural Shift

  • Middletown Area School District is working with Stop Hazing, a national organization that works with schools, on a three-year intervention and cultural shift collaborative.
  • Stop Hazing will conduct a data-driven assessment of our District’s current practices and culture, suggest a plan to promote a culture shift, as well as to identify students who are struggling through both individual and group supports.
  • Middletown Area School District will be incorporating brief mental health and academic assessments of students, known as Universal Screeners, K-12, three times a year, for the 2022-2023 school year. Data from these screeners will then be reviewed by each school’s Student Assistance Team to identify students who are struggling in academic, social, emotional, and behavioral areas.

We plan to fully involve students in these initiatives and will ensure that all of these efforts are approached in a positive rather than a punitive manner. Ultimately, we want our students to feel great about coming to school and being a part of sports and extra-curricular activities.

We will continue to update you throughout the school year. Thank you very much for your support for the school district, staff, and students.

Sincerely,

Dr. Chelton Hunter
Superintendent of Schools

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