New Trier acknowledges ‘hazing incident,’ reportedly punishes participants and puts boys lacrosse team on probation
New Trier High School administrators wrote in an email Thursday, March 31, that a group of varsity lacrosse players is facing “significant consequences” after a “hazing incident” in early March.
The email — which is signed by by New Trier Superintendent Dr. Paul Sally, Winnetka campus Principal Deborah Dubravec and Athletic Director Augie Fontanetta and was sent to district parents — does not provide details on the punishments for any individuals, but says the lacrosse team is on probation, cannot participate in out-of-state competition and must complete anti-hazing programming.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE EMAIL IN FULL
“We want to make it clear: Hazing is a serious violation of our values and school policies and will not be tolerated,” the emails reads. “We expect every New Trier student to feel safe and respected as part of our culture of dignity and belonging.”
According to the message, the school began a “comprehensive investigation” when it was made aware of the hazing. It does not say when that investigation began. The email says multiple individuals involved in the hazing were punished in alignment with school policies but it is not clear how many students were punished and what the punishments were.
According to the New Trier Extracurricular Code of Conduct, consequences vary for breach of the code of conduct but “in most cases” a suspension from the activity results. The code prohibits — among other things — alcohol use and possession, assault or battery, and “bullying, intimidation, hazing and harassment” in a variety of forms, whether within or outside the school day.
As first reported by The Record on Monday, March 28, multiple independent sources confirmed that a digital video — which was also viewed by The Record — depicts current New Trier varsity lacrosse players beating one of their teammates.
In the video, four individuals pour canned liquid on another individual, who is down on all fours with a cardboard beer box covering his head. One individual then strikes the victim near the head and face with the end of a plastic baseball bat before at least three people continually kick the victim as he lay on the ground.
The email from the school did not mention the digital video; however, it calls the incident “serious and disturbing.”
According to the school’s message, the incident occurred at an off-campus party. The Winnetka Police Department told The Record on Monday, March 28, that it took a report of a “hazing/battery” that occurred on March 5 in Winnetka. According to the department, the victim’s family declined to pursue charges. The department denied The Record’s public-records request for more information.
New Trier put the boys varsity lacrosse team on probation for the entirety of this season and the 2023 season, the email says, and the season will be canceled if other “serious behaviors occur or are uncovered.”
Additionally, the team is banned from out-of-state competition. The lacrosse team has already missed its season-opening game on March 24 and a three-contest spring break trip to Ohio. Games in St. Louis are currently on the team’s schedule for April 29 and May 1.
“Off-campus team social gatherings” are also prohibited, according to the email, which adds that the lacrosse team must participate in anti-hazing programming.
It is unclear if the team will play its next scheduled game on Thursday, April 7, at York High School.
“The behavior that took place does not represent the values and heart of our school and our community,” the email reads. ” … This one incident also should not overshadow the accomplishments of our thousands of student athletes and coaches, who demonstrate our values as they compete each day.”
The New Trier boys lacrosse is an elite program in the state of Illinois. The Trevians have 13 state championships since 1995, including a title in 2019, and they faced off with rival Loyola Academy in the sectional championship game in 2021.
EMAIL FROM NEW TRIER HIGH SCHOOL SENT TO DISTRICT 203 FAMILIES ON THURSDAY, MARCH 31
Dear New Trier Families,
New Trier has been investigating a serious and disturbing hazing incident that occurred during an off-campus party attended by members of our Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team. We began our comprehensive investigation as soon as we learned about the hazing incident, and the investigation has continued through spring break. We have issued significant consequences to the students involved that are consistent with our school policies and recognize the gravity of this event.
We want to make it clear: Hazing is a serious violation of our values and school policies and will not be tolerated. We expect every New Trier student to feel safe and respected as part of our culture of dignity and belonging. The behavior that our investigation has uncovered is appalling, and we are working to ensure it will never happen again.
While we cannot discuss the discipline of specific students, we want you to know that such actions have significant consequences. We have put the team on probation for the entire 2022 season and 2023 season. They are currently barred from out-of-state competitions and forfeited participation in out-of-state games over spring break. Any off-campus team social gatherings are prohibited. We are continuing our investigation and will end the team’s season if other serious behaviors occur or are uncovered. The team will also participate in education on anti-hazing and positive team culture as well as work with administration to determine how to help repair the harm done by this incident. The behavior that took place does not represent the values and heart of our school and our community, and the consequences reflect the serious nature of the incident. This one incident also should not overshadow the accomplishments of our thousands of student athletes and coaches, who demonstrate our values as they compete each day.
We know our students, as teenagers, need to take responsibility and accept the consequences of their actions. We also know that they have more learning and growing to do as they mature into young adults. We encourage all of our families to talk to their students about how the choices they make can have a significant impact on themselves and others. Thank you for your partnership in helping make New Trier a safe, welcoming environment for all.
Paul Sally, Superintendent
Denise Dubravec, Principal – Winnetka Campus
Augie Fontanetta, Athletic Director
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Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319