Damascus Principal Steps Down Amid Hazing Scandal, Aftermath

Colleen Barrett, Editor in Chief

In light of the four rape charges resulting from the alleged fall hazing scandal at Damascus High School (DHS), which involved accusations that JV football players were sexually assaulted by their teammates and allegations of mishandling the investigation, former DHS principal Casey Crouse has resigned from her position.

Crouse announced her effective-immediately resignation in a letter to the community in early May; she will be reassigned another role within the school system after serving as principal for just two years.

In addition to the loss of Crouse, athletic director Joseph Doody was reassigned to another position within MCPS and JV head football coach Vincent Colbert was fired, according to a May 14 NBC Washington article.

“It has become clear that in order for Damascus High School to move forward, it will require new school leadership,” Crouse said in the letter.

Crouse’s departure comes in the wake of revelations about her failure to notify the police upon hearing about the accusations.

A March 29 Washington Post article revealed that Crouse, among others, did not report the credible allegations of the victims until 12 hours after they were initially brought to her attention, despite an agreement between MCPS and the Special Victims Investigations Division of the police department to immediately report any cases of sexual assault. School officials interviewed suspects and took statements from victims without getting them adequate medical care or contacting their parents, according to the article.

Contrary to Crouse’s actions, MCPS policy encourages community members to report any potential abuse.

“Individuals who have any doubt about whether to report abuse or neglect, should err on the side of reporting,” according to the MCPS’ 2018-19 guide to student rights and responsibilities.

Additionally, there was speculation that the students involved were left completely unsupervised, which the same MCPS-funded investigation has since confirmed.

Since the incident, a new supervision policy has been implemented in all MCPS schools;  it is now required for all extracurricular sponsors and coaches to fill out supervision plans that are then reviewed by school administrators. Previously, it was not required for sponsors or coaches to have formal plans.

“The supervision plan kind of crystallized [the old procedure],” RHS athletic director Mike Hayes said. “There’s always the rules of don’t give people your keys, don’t leave kids unsupervised, don’t open doors for people. The supervision plan just made it more standard and official so it would be standard across the board because of what happened.”

RHS coaches seem to recognize the importance of supervision and use their time with teams to maximize productivity.

“Supervision is important to ensure student safety and to build a positive culture with the team,” RHS girls varsity basketball coach Gretchen Gregg said. “Practice and game time are short so [it’s important to make] sure the whole team is efficient with their time and all working towards their goals effectively.”