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Band directors launch civil suit –Record-Courier

Excerpt:

STREETSBORO — Four Streetsboro parents are among more than a dozen people being sued by two band directors who were fired as a result of hazing allegations and their spouses.

Gretchen Weaver and Shane Ellsworth were accused by two students and their families of permitting hazing during July 2016 band camp. Among the allegations were that students were “bombarded with water balloons,” watched skits, and had to “stand at attention while being squirted with silly string, wrapped in caution tape, wrapped in plastic wrap, males being squirted in the crotch area with water guns, being awoken with loud music, the trashing of their dorm, and then needing clean up the seniors’ mess prior to boarding the bus for home.”

Also filing suit is Weaver’s husband, Tom Weaver, a band director at Nordonia High School, and Ellsworth’s husband, Scott. The couples filed a legal complaint on July 31 alleging defamation, intentional infliction of serious emotional distress, civil conspiracy and loss of consortium as a result of allegations of hazing or permitting hazing of students.

According to the complaint, Weaver and Ellsworth have been unable to find employment as teachers or band leaders and have been “blackballed” from participating from professional association events. They also claim they have required medical care for ailments caused by the publication of the allegations in addition to employment and mental anguish effects.

The complaint names more than 10 defendants including parents Matthew and Shannon Deevers, parents Jeffrey and Ginger Maines, Superintendent Michael Daulbaugh, Treasurer Catherine Rouse, Assistant Superintendent Aireane Curtis, Board of Education members Brian Violi and John Kelly, the Board of Education and John Does 1-10. The Weavers and Ellsworths are seeking a jury trial and damages exceeding $25,000 for each count, punitive damages, attorneys fees, court costs and “other relief as the court deems just and equitable.”

John Fickes, an attorney for the Weavers and the Ellsworths, said he hopes a resolution can be found because the directors lost not only their jobs when they were terminated by the district in January, but the relationships they had formed in the district as well.

“They lost it all,” Fickes said. “It was brutal and they are still grieving. I hope we can find a resolution that will allow everyone to move forward.”

The Deevers’ daughter was a senior in the band during the alleged hazing and the Maines’ daughter was an incoming freshman in the band at the time. Both families sent emails to the superintendent alleging the band directors hazed and permitted hazing during the camp, according to the complaint.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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