UPDATE: Falcon High School confirms hazing, harassment

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– District 49’s Falcon High School has released in a letter to parents, students, faculty and staff the specifics regarding the “serious misconduct” that caused school officials to suspend the Falcon High School football team.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations of unlawful sexual contact involving members of the Falcon football team. D49 confirmed the investigation and said parents, students and even coaches were aware of hazing and harassment conduct within the program. D49 said coaches involved have been placed on leave.

“I was angry sad and honestly I was just embarrassed hearing that, it’s not who we are. it’s embarrassing and I don’t want people knowing that,” said Falcon High School student, Daymon McDonald.

The letter that D49 sent out to parents includes the following,

“Through the course of an investigation with FHS and district administrators in collaboration with our law enforcement partners at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, we have learned that adults, including multiple coaches and multiple parents knew of hazing and harassment activities within the FHS football team that later escalated into the claims that are under investigation by local law enforcement. Those coaches are on leave from District 49, and we are making a full report to the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA). Sadly, we have also learned that teammates from multiple grade levels participated, observed, and recorded the hazing and harassment. We are also saddened by reports of threats and harassment directed against the students who made the initial report.”

“We are supposed lifting these kids at this age helping them move on past high school not holding them down here and taking away what they love,” said Falcon High School parent, Troy Stinson.

D49 said athletes of all grade levels took part in hazing and some even filmed the incidents. According to D49, coaches, parents, and students said they did not report what they knew because it might negatively affect their playing status or the team’s season. The district said administrators are working to determine the appropriate next steps for the students involved, who are subject to both school and law enforcement consequences.

The following is the full letter:

“Investigation into FHS Football Program Confirms Hazing, Harassment

“The safety of students, families, and staff on our campuses is non-negotiable. We remain proactive in our partnership with local law enforcement to ensure a safe learning environment for every District 49 learner that honors our cultural compass and strategic priorities.

“Through the course of an investigation with FHS and district administrators in collaboration with our law enforcement partners at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, we have learned that adults, including multiple coaches and multiple parents knew of hazing and harassment activities within the FHS football team that later escalated into the claims that are under investigation by local law enforcement. Those coaches are on leave from District 49, and we are making a full report to the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA). Sadly, we have also learned that teammates from multiple grade levels participated, observed, and recorded the hazing and harassment. We are also saddened by reports of threats and harassment directed against the students who made the initial report.

“This issue has affected students program-wide and even extended into the larger community, which is why our response must be strong and decisive. Coaches, parents, and students have told us they did not report what they knew because it might negatively affect their playing status or the team’s season. That is unacceptable. The silence created the conditions that prolonged the harassment and hazing of smaller and younger students. We consider this misconduct to be a violation of our cultural compass as well as CHSAA standards and our district code of conduct.

“We commend the courage and care shown by the students who did report, and the caring response from adults who immediately launched an investigation. Administrators will determine the appropriate next steps for the students involved, who are subject to both school and law enforcement consequences.

“While we reestablish team leadership (both coach and player) and verify protocols to ensure safety for every athlete in every setting, FHS Football will forfeit all contests scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 24-25. FHS and district administrators will determine the best path forward for the program, with the goal of resuming the season under new leadership.

“We thank our law enforcement partners and encourage all of our students and families to stay alert and report any suspicious activity. We thank you for your trust, understanding, and support in this matter.

“Sincerely,

“Darryl E. Bonds,
“Principal, Falcon High School”

The reactions in this report do not reflect all the parties involved in this incident.

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