April 24, 2014

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Avon Lake ballplayers could wind up benched by ‘Harlem Shake’ video

AVON LAKE — An unknown number of Avon Lake High School baseball players could face discipline for shooting an inappropriate “Harlem Shake” video and posting it to YouTube.

Avon Lake Schools Superintendent Robert Scott said the video was posted to the site March 6. It was removed Monday after he received an anonymous tip about it, Scott said.

Until that tip, no one knew that the video had been made nor posted, he said.

“Some kids make bad decisions,” Scott said. “They videotaped something, they behaved the way they did, and then posted it. Every step made it worse. Their actions were not acceptable to anyone at Avon Lake.”

The video, which was shot in the high school locker room, featured a number of baseball players dancing to the “Harlem Shake,” the title of which dates to an early 1980s dance that originated in New York City. The video was made after a baseball practice, according to Scott, and included shots of a couple of students holding bats “and pretending they were their private parts.”

Scott could not say precisely how many students took part.

“It was a lot of kids, but not everybody in the video was doing something inappropriate,” Scott said. “Some kids were just walking through, some were sitting there, and some were getting ready to go to their lockers.”

The video is being investigated by Avon Lake High Principal Joanie Walker and Athletic Director Thomas R. Barone.

Scott said the video appears to have violated school rules as well as athletic department rules.

“There will be appropriate consequences,” Scott said.

Students found to have violated rules for disrespectful behavior including profane or degrading gestures and expressions could face suspensions from school, and/or suspensions from baseball games, according to Scott.

The incident appears to have violated school rules that prohibit such activity from taking place on school premises.

Walker and Barone will determine what action to take.

“They are responsible for it, and they will let me know what is decided,” Scott said.

Scott said the investigation was continuing and would include interviews with students, parents and a look at students’ past history.

“Because we are a bring-your-own-technology district, students have made videos in the past with iPhones and such, but this is a first for us,” Scott said. “Some think this was just boys being boys, while others think it’s horrific.”

Scott said he knows the student-athletes being investigated for the episode.

“These are all good kids, basically,” he said. “For whatever reason they got carried away and did some inappropriate things they’ll have to take the consequences for.”

Walker could not be reached for comment.

Calls to Barone were not returned.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.