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Tamaqua school officials address 'hazing incident'

Tamaqua forfeited their playoff game over the weekend.

TAMAQUA, Pa. — Officials from Tamaqua Area School District are addressing what's now being called a "hazing incident" between players on the high school football team.

The raiders forfeited their first-round playoff game last Friday.

The school board met for a committee meeting Tuesday night. 

No public comment was allowed, but the board president promised transparency.

"The school district is not about to push anything under the rug, or hide things or prevent people from knowing," said Larry Wittig, president of the Tamaqua school board.

Wittig says the alleged hazing happened Thursday evening and the coaching staff knew nothing about it. 

Parent Jessica Harper said she was disturbed when she heard about the incident and came to the meeting looking for answers.

"I first found out about it Saturday morning. I was horrified," she said. "I cried. It's awful that something like that can be done within the school district."

School officials said the district and Tamaqua police responded to the situation quickly, meeting Thursday night to address the allegations. 

Findings from police and school district investigations have not been released, and details are scarce.

"The students have rights," Wittig said. "The perpetrators, the victims, all of them have rights, and they are also young, and you don't go out blasting thanks, particularly prematurely."

Harper hopes punishment is swift.

"I feel like the assailants should face criminal charges," said Harper. "They should be expelled. It's very upsetting."

While the district does not have any say in legal matters, Wittig said it won't hold back if any players are found responsible.

"It's not a slap on the wrist or 'boys will be boys.' No," said Wittig. "We are committed to taking it to the end."

Harper told Newswatch 16 bullying has been an issue in Tamaqua schools for years, but the district said it's not a systemic problem. 

The board president said parents can feel safe sending their kids to school. 

Harper said she'll only feel safe if the players responsible for the "hazing incident" are no longer in school.

RELATED: Investigation at Tamaqua Area involving high school football team