BELLINGHAM, Wash — Editor's note: The above video on the Bellingham School District's response to the hazing allegations originally aired on Sept. 22, 2022.
The head football coach at Sehome High School resigned after reports of hazing between players were confirmed during a third-party investigation.
According to an email from Sehome High School Principal Sonia Cole, Kevin Beason coached the football team for six seasons. She wrote that they, "recognize and appreciate the time and effort he and the entire football coaching staff have poured into this program."
The district first received reports of hazing involving members of Sehome High School's football team in September. Due to student privacy laws, the district did not share details about what happened.
The investigation found "serious, confirmed student behaviors … that violated harassment, intimidation, and bullying policies," according to the district. The policies are spelled out in Bellingham Public Schools’ athletic code of conduct.
The investigation also found that this type of behavior has been happening within the Sehome football team for years.
Administrators at Sehome responded by requiring six weeks of lessons each Monday that addressed these issues and engaged student athletes and coaches in working toward a more positive, healthy team dynamic. Student athletes were required to participate in the lessons in order to participate in games.
No coaches or staff were there when the hazing happened, according to the Bellingham School District. The district said it has worked closely with the coaching staff throughout the investigation.
The email sent to the football players and their families read, in part:
"It was clear that our team had a need to learn about hazing, power dynamics, and clear steps on building a positive team culture.
This team had incredible football talent but also showed a need for continued redirection and support on appropriate behavior on and off the field. Individually, these student athletes are great young men. In a group, the dynamic can quickly change and move in a negative direction. We know that we can have a positive team culture, but we also know that it will take continued intentional work to make this happen.
In the coming weeks, we will be working to hire a new head coach to lead the Sehome football program. From there, the head coach will have the opportunity to build a coaching staff. We will continue to update the football community throughout this process and there will be opportunities for students and families to be engaged in the hiring process."