NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A football program at a Staten Island high school has been suspended indefinitely, following a hazing scandal.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Wednesday, pride at Susan E. Wagner High School, 1200 Manor Rd., has taken a hit. At least two students alleged that they were victims of hazing at a summer football camp.
“We’re not saying to stop the investigation — not at all. You know, want the investigation to continue,” said Rina Cuzzocrea, the mother of a varsity football player at the school. “But just let the ones who are innocent -– who have nothing to do with anything — back on the football field.”
Cuzzocrea said her senior son was at the upstate training camp where the alleged hazing took place.
“If he had anything to do with anything, I want to know. I’d be the first to say I want to know,” she said, breaking down. “It’s very upsetting — I’m sorry.”
At least two students accused other players of hazing – including being shot at by BB guns, hit with broomsticks, and sat upon. Varsity running back William Patsakos was at the camp, and said he does not believe the allegations.
“We joke around with each other — honestly, like, just cracking jokes. But that’s really it,” Patsakos said.
On Wednesday, team members and their parents met with the principal at Wagner to give written testimonies of what they witnessed at camp. Four players have been suspended from the school for their alleged involvement.
“We have no tolerance for this type of behavior and the matter is under investigation,” New York City Department of Education spokesman Jason Fink in a statement.
One volunteer coach has been suspended, and football practices have been halted while the investigation continues.
“I don’t understand why the program can’t continue, or the boys can’t practice, until the investigation is over,” said parent Christine Patsakos.
The team’s first game on Saturday is now in jeopardy, and parents said so are the students’ futures – with potential scholarships on the line.
“That scholarship allowed that parent who maybe couldn’t afford college to get their son into college; to get a good education; to have something to fall back on and help themselves in the future,” said Joe Angelone.
“It’s very frustrating and annoying,” added William Patsakos. “Since it’s my senior year, I’ve worked really hard to get to this place.”
Added parent Roger Mayo: “Why take this away from kids who are good kids? You destroy their chances because of some few who think that they can go out and hurt other people. You know, it’s stupidity.”
CBS2 asked the Department of Education why Wagner’s football program cannot continue during the investigation. The Tottenville High School football program, also on Staten Island, was not suspended when it was being investigated for a bullying case in 2012 that resulted in a suicide.
The DOE declined to comment.
Parents at Wagner said their school principal told them he is hoping to get the program back and running as soon as possible.