Allegations of hazing, bullying and harassment have surfaced among student-athletes at Brunswick High School, according to a letter sent last week to parents of high school football players.

“Based on the information brought forward to us about hazing activities that allegedly took place at our football team retreat at Thompson’s Point in August, we have launched an investigation to uncover any violation of school rules and determine appropriate action,” wrote Superintendent Phillip Potenziano. “Our intention is to investigate allegations, get the facts, and honor the due process rights of students and contract rights of staff as part of the process.”

On Tuesday, Potenziano said that after initiating an internal investigation by the Brunswick High School administration, he decided to hand the investigation over to the school’s legal counsel.

Potenziano said he first became aware of the allegations around Sept. 8.

“When an investigation uncovers inappropriate action or a violation of school rules, we address the conduct in a manner that complies with applicable law and our policies and that is appropriate in the circumstances,” Potenziano wrote.

The details of the alleged incident are not being released while the investigation is underway, Potenziano said. It is unclear how many students are involved and if local law enforcement is working on the investigation.

Brunswick School Board Chair William Thompson said that he is aware of the allegations, but declined to offer further details at this time.

“I take any allegations of bullying, harassment, and hazing seriously, and they are strictly prohibited by Brunswick High School. It is also illegal under state law.” Potenziano said in an email Tuesday. “Playing sports for Brunswick High School is a privilege, not a right; I expect our student-athletes to always act appropriately and with character and integrity, not only on our athletic fields and competitions but also in school and in the community.”

In the past, there have been other allegations of bullying in the Brunswick School Department.

In 2019, The Times Record reported that 11 teachers claimed former Brunswick Junior High School principal Walter Wallace harassed, bullied and emotionally and verbally abused female staff for years and that complaints were swept under the rug by the administration. Ultimately, The Times Record reported, an attorney “concluded that the evidence did not support a finding of harassment based on a protected characteristic.”

In 2016, the Portland Press Herald reported that the school department paid $125,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a former student who said school officials did not do enough to prevent the bullying and abuse he experienced at Brunswick Junior High School for more than two years.

According to the Press Herald report, the boy’s mother filed a complaint in 2012, alleging her son was taunted and abused by other students because of his appearance, lack of athletic ability and a perception that he was gay. The mother alleged that staff did not recognize the pattern of bullying, and she took her son out of the Brunswick school in 2012, the Press Herald reported.


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