The Board of Education at the New Jersey high school embroiled in a football hazing scandal voted to continue the indefinite suspension of the team's coaches with pay during an emotional meeting tonight.
Five tenured teachers were suspended last week at Sayreville War Memorial High School, including head football coach George Najjar. The board said it would continue its investigation of the alleged incidents, which allegedly involved older members of the team brutalizing freshmen players.
The 9-0 vote to suspend came after some heated public comments, most in support of Najjar, and many focused on criticism of the board and school district. Speakers decried hazing and abuse and several members of the public accused the district administration of not training the coaching staff to deal with hazing, bullying and intimidation.
Board President Kevin Ciak said the panel could not discuss the case, citing rules that prohibit going into personnel matters in open meetings. "The suspensions of coaches are not about punishment, but finding out the truth," he said.
Seven football players at the school accused in the hazing scandal face a variety of criminal charges as investigators try to determine the depths of the alleged abuse. Three students face sex-crime charges, and others face charges including aggravated sexual assault to conspiracy and criminal restraint.
The players were charged after four victims were allegedly held against their will in four separate incidents, while the defendants improperly touched them in a sexual manner, police said.
The seven suspects have all been suspended from school, with the football season canceled indefinitely amid the hazing investigation. There have been no official statements on any involvement by the coaches in the hazing.
Authorities with the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office have not announced whether they intend to charge any of them as adults.