NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — All activities have been suspended until further notice for the North Smithfield High School football team as the district investigates hazing allegations.
In a letter sent directly to football players’ parents, Superintendent Michael St. Jean said the district learned of potential hazing that took place last year and involved players on the team.
St. Jean said the district, alongside the North Smithfield Police Department, Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), immediately launched an investigation into the hazing allegations.
The entire football team has been barred from participating in practices, workouts and games until the investigation is complete, according to St. Jean.
“We understand how important participating in athletics can be,” St. Jean wrote. “However, given the serious nature of the allegations involving players on the football team, we must err on the side of caution in order to protect all of our students.”
While the details of the allegations have not been made public, St. Jean described them as serious.
In another letter to North Smithfield parents, St. Jean said the district is in the process of hiring an independent firm to “conduct a thorough investigation, the results of which will be made public upon completion.”
“I want to assure you and reinforce that our school district takes any allegations of hazing, bullying or other misconduct extremely seriously,” he said. “That is why we have taken these actions.”
12 News reached out to the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office regarding the investigation, to which a spokesperson confirmed they’re involved.
“We commend the school department for their swift notification to this office, law enforcement and the DCYF and their cooperation to date,” the spokesperson said.
North Smithfield police released a statement Tuesday confirming their involvement in the investigation, but offered no further details.
Anyone with information pertinent to the investigation is asked to contact Detective Gregory Chito at (401) 762-1212 ext. 225.