Administration comes down hard in response to 'Freshman Friday' hazing

The Paly administration has suspended at least 10 students and is still looking into the mass hazing that involved various students throwing water balloons and eggs at underclassmen after school on Friday, Aug. 29.

Many other unverified incidents have been reported to the administration. In addition to egg and water balloon peltings, freshmen were allegedly hit with paintballs shot from cars, paddled on a nearby street off-campus, and pantsed at school, according to a freshman, who wishes to remain anonymous.

At least six upperclassmen were pelting students with eggs and water balloons from the top of the Embarcadero Road overpass when Assistant Principal Todd Feinberg approached and called for them to stop, Feinberg said in a Wednesday interview with the Voice. The egg-and-water-balloon throwers began to leave the area, but stopped when they heard Feinberg yelling for them to come back, Feinberg said. School officials summoned two policemen and escorted at least one student to the front office for questioning, according to Feinberg.

Feinberg said he could not comment on the ongoing investigation; however, in response to suggestions that the administration has been too aggressive in apprehending the students, Feinberg said: “It is the duty of the teachers, administrators, and staff members to maintain a safe campus for all students. There are times when a staff member can use reasonable means to restrain a student if that student is in violation of the California Education Code.”

The school plans to fight back against bullying of this nature, according to Berkson.

“We can expect to see more character education in the curriculum,” Berkson said. “We need to change the culture here on how things are done.”

One student who was seen throwing eggs and water balloons was given a five-day suspension from school. The administration cited the student for violating California Education Code, Section 48900, which states that students may be suspended or expelled for defying the authority of a staff member or being “engaged in, or attempted to engage in, hazing…which is likely to cause serious bodily injury or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to a former, current, or prospective pupil.”

“People who got involved were pretty bad off,” Berkson said. “There is still possible police involvement in what happened.”

Berkson also dispelled any rumors of an ongoing lawsuit against the school, saying, “I haven’t heard anything about a lawsuit.”

Feinberg hopes that students will work together to move beyond the events of ‘Freshman Friday.’

“It is my hope,” Feinberg said, “that all students that participated in or were negatively affected by the events of Aug. 29 will be working with the Paly community to make sure that all students, current and future, feel welcome, safe, and supported.”

At least one of the perpetrators told the Voice that he has realized the gravity of his actions in hindsight and feels remorse over what he and his classmates did.

In keeping with journalistic standards, the Voice does not publish the names involved in criminal activity.

“I feel bad about anyone who[m] I may have harmed or hurt unintentionally,” the student said. “It was meant to be a practical joke, nothing serious.”

Additional reporting was done by Editors-in-Chief Dan Schwartz and Michael Bloch