Letter says marching band was inappropriate

KENNEWICK — Parents from an Oregon high school have sent a complaint saying their kids were inappropriately grabbed and groped by members of a Washington school’s marching band.

The Tri-City Herald reports that a letter from the St. Helens Band Patrons Parent Organization describes the behavior of Kennewick High students during a band retreat in Yakima last month. The organization sent the letter to the school district and the state Board of Education, which has forwarded the complaint to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to be reviewed.

Several Kennewick band members “reached out and grabbed, groped and swatted St. Helens band students on their butts, crotches and in other locations” during the retreat, according to the letter. Janae Bates, a spokeswoman for the organization, declined to discuss the circumstances of the touching or the status of the complaint Saturday.

Kennewick officials said in a statement to the Herald that several marching band members admitted to giving congratulatory “pats” or “slaps” on the backsides of other participants at the retreat. Some students have been disciplined, although details of the punishment were not released.

More than 40 St. Helens students reported being touched — as much as 15 times — by Kennewick band members during Harvest Marching Band Festival. In its letter, the St. Helens booster group said the touching was clearly a planned and premeditated act of hazing.

The booster group says it has been unhappy with the response from Kennewick officials and was not satisfied with an apology letter.

“The token letter of apology, signed ‘Lion Marching Band,’ is meaningless as it does not prove that anyone was held accountable,” the letter said.

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