Cancellation of wrestling season leads outraged parents to run for School Board

Months following the cancellation of the Starpoint High School wrestling season due to “serious allegations of inappropriate conduct by one or more members” of the wrestling team, parents of wrestlers affected by the cancellation ran for the School Board this past May. Their decision to run was in part due to their opposition of the 2022 School Board’s decision to cancel the wrestling season.

There were three “dog piling” incidents alleged against the wrestling team, which launched a Title IX sexual harassment investigation. Two wrestlers were the focus of the investigations and have not been allowed to return to in-person schooling. The cancellation of the season prevented other wrestlers that were not the focus of the investigation to give up their chance to compete in sectional and state individual championships.

A group of Starpoint wrestling parents contested the season cancellation in state Supreme Court. The parents demanded that the school district show cause for its decision to cancel the season. The judge declined to rule on the motion before sectionals began. The parents also contented that the dog piling incidents are a form of roughhousing and did not include anything criminal.

The two wrestlers have been charged with harassment violations. Both wrestlers are 17 years old and have been charged with one count of second-degree harassment stemming from allegations at a private residence. They also have pending charges for second-degree harassment stemming from allegations that occurred on Starpoint School District property. 

During the Starpoint School Board meetings this spring, parents, student-athletes, and coaches criticized the board for the decision to cancel the season for the entire team, and the lack of transparency about the allegations. It seemed wrestlers, who were not involved in the allegations, were bullied in school following the allegations and the board failed to address these issues. In a board meeting in March, Haseley, one of the candidates running for the board elections, lashed out against the cancellation. “My child, along with numerous others, were made victims because of how this was handled with a sweeping stroke of what happened to the entire team,” Haseley told the board. “They were punished as a team over unfounded accusations involving a very small percentage of the group. These kids will likely never receive justice for what has been done to them. You cannot give them back what you chose – what you made a conscious choice – to take from them.”

One of the current board members who was not present during the vote to cancel the season was critical of her fellow board members saying, “I would like to say that the Starpoint District overreacted.”

The board members shared that they are restricted from sharing information about the investigation. Shawn Riester, one of the board members who was up for re-election stated, “I wish we could talk more about it – I really do,” “That’s what makes it so hard. It’s hard for all of us to sit up here, listening to everybody speaking from their hearts, the pain that’s coming out. We feel that as well. I have not slept much since this whole thing happened a month ago.” [1]

Following the election on May 16th, none of the parents of wrestlers were elected to the board. The members of the board who voted to cancel the season were all re-elected by a large margin of votes. [2]

[1] Tsujimoto, Ben, “Wrestling allegations serve as backdrop for crowded Starpoint School Board race,” 15 May 2023

[2] Starpoint Central School District Results of Vote,

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