A new hazing scandal has rocked the Ohio marching world—this time at the high school level. Band director Gretchen Weaver and assistant director Shane Ellsworth were placed on paid leave, and band activities were temporarily suspended in mid-August after hazing allegations surfaced in the Streetsboro (Ohio) High School marching band.
Students were allegedly pushed into a lake without being asked if they could swim, wrapped to trees with plastic wrap, and mocked in derogatory skits by older members during band camp.
Superintendent Mike Daulbaugh took a strong stance against hazing in a message to the school. “The Streetsboro City Schools have zero tolerance for hazing, bullying, or conduct that is demeaning or belittling to students,” Daulbaugh said. “The fact that some excuse it as ‘steeped in tradition’ is irrelevant and frankly disheartening.”
In his statement, School Board President John Kelly expressed concern that 14 students had left the band in the last two years. “Every child in our care deserves to be educated in a safe environment free from this type of activity,” Kelly said. “‘Team building’ and developing ‘esprit de corps’ can and must be done without abusing power over the underclass students who deserve to be treated with respect. To those parents and former band members who insist that ‘this is the way it’s always been,’ our message should be clear. This is not the way it will be in the Streetsboro City Schools from now on.”
By early September, the band was under the direction of an interim director and performing again at scheduled events such as football games. The Streetsboro superintendent, legal counsel, and school board continue their investigation.