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Seattle School District investigates Garfield High hazing involving at least 100 students

Garfield High School and the Seattle School District are investigating a hazing incident involving at least 100 students. (Seattle School District image)

Seattle police say they’ve identified eight Garfield High School students accused of leading a hazing that involved at least 100 students last Friday at the Washington Park Arboretum.

“It’s just a matter of making contact with those juveniles and their parents and the investigation will continue from there,” said Seattle Police Lt. Renee Witt.

Principal Ted Howard got a phone tip and went to the park with the police officer who works on campus, according to district spokeswoman Teresa Wippel. He saw “100 or more Garfield students participating in a variety of hazing incidents, which included drinking alcohol. Apparently there were some students being paddled, eggs were being thrown and shoe polish was all over their bodies. Some students were wearing diapers.”

In a letter to parents, Howard said students caused at least one car wreck as they scattered from the scene.

“If the investigation reveals there were others involved, we will make contact with them as well,” Witt said.

It’s not clear what discipline they might face, since the activities happened after school hours and away from campus.

“But, if we can figure out a way to make it stick from a standpoint of some type of school-related involvement, we will do that because we don’t tolerate this, especially if it’s a hazing incident.” She said school discipline, including suspension or expulsion, is still a possibility.

Hazing has been a long-standing problem at Garfield High.

“It’s something that the principal has been trying to get rid of,” said Wippel.

News of the hazing first came to light earlier this week when Howard sent an email to parents alerting them to the incident and his response:

An Important Message from Principal Howard…

Do you know where your son or daughter is at tonight? I spent the afternoon with Officer Radford and many other officers walking through the Arboretum. One hundred or more Garfield students were participating in hazing incidents, drinking hard alcohol and beer. Students were being paddled, had on diapers, eggs were being thrown at students and shoe polish was all over their body. As students ran and scattered from the scene they caused at least one, maybe more car accidents due to running in front of cars. I was also called a (n-word) by a student and many other derogatory names.

As I email you tonight I asked the question do you know where your son or daughter is at? I ask that question because I want you to know that we all have a responsibility to keep our kids safe. We all work hard to make sure they learn life lessons and make better decisions. Tonight some of our students didn’t make good decisions. If students were there to watch, cause harm to another student or behave inappropriately this impacts the entire GHS community and puts the GHS community in a negative light.

I am asked every year how we will address hazing. Every year we work really hard to teach our students about respect, how to honor each other’s cultures, and to have empathy. I am asking you tonight to continue that conversation with your son or daughter. We are a community, a community that grows together and learns together. Please have a conversation with your son and daughter about decisions, how they can and will impact people’s lives.

Thank you for your time.

Ted Howard
Principal Garfield HS

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