Accountability check needed at B.E. Area

The rumors and questions have swirled around the case of four Blue Earth Area football players who allegedly held down and beat a teammate at an end-of-the-regular season party in Winnebago on Oct. 19. The shocking nature of events — and the school’s response — have sparked outrage among residents of the school district. They say there is a history of lax enforcement when it comes to bullying at Blue Earth Area. The assault also has sparked national media interest, given the nature of the attack and our society’s seemingly unhealthy preoccupation with sports.

There is a police investigation in the case. Charges have been filed. So, hopefully, those responsible for the assault will be held accountable.

The school has a bullying policy, as well as rules for extracurricular event eligibility. It also has a process for investigating complaints against students. But we’re not sure this process and these rules are adequate, given what has occurred. We also cannot help but wonder — along with everyone else — if the school favored its state-bound football team over doing the right thing.

If the students involved in the alleged assault are going to face justice, will there be any repercussions for coaches, the athletic director, principals or the superintendent? Should not they have acted more swiftly and made appropriate follow-up decisions? Will the school board get involved and demand accountability, and seek changes in district policy?

In the end, we have no doubt that Blue Earth Area has learned a lesson the hard way and will now take action in some form. It not only should, it must. We likewise hope all our area schools are paying attention. They need to be vigilant.