Cannon Falls dance coach fired in hazing incident
- Associated Press
- August 26, 2014 - 5:41 PM
CANNON FALLS, Minn. — A Cannon Falls dance coach has been fired following a hazing incident involving toy guns.
The school board voted not to renew a contract with Bomber Dance Team head coach Madi Salisbury, the Post-Bulletin (http://bit.ly/1ARSUzd ) reported. More than 150 people attended the two-hour meeting. Many demonstrated in support of Salisbury beforehand.
Cannon Falls Superintendent Beth Giese said the decision was made to protect students, in accordance with the state's weapons policy.
"We take our weapons policy and the Minnesota State High School League's policy very seriously," Giese said. "All decisions were based on that. We've got to support this policy. We have to protect the girls."
During a team-building exercise in July, the upperclassmen planned to scare their younger teammates by turning out the lights, playing scary music and popping out of the dark.
Salisbury said she was unaware someone had brought pop guns, which some girls thought were real guns. She said she wasn't in the room when the situation unfolded, but she quickly stopped it when she heard screaming.
"I did not have prior knowledge of the guns," Salisbury said. "I did not know they were being brought out. I want to be very clear — the coaches planned this to jump out and scare the girls. It was taken to a different level under advisement of someone not even on staff. It wasn't intended to go the route it did."
Salisbury, who was set to begin her fourth year in Cannon Falls, hasn't had prior issues, she said.
Salisbury said only two dancers in the program claim to have lasting negative effects from the incident. She has 15 days to appeal the school board's decision.
"We're talking about 53 high school and middle school girls who just lost their mama bear," Salisbury said. "They're really hurt. They're the ones being punished. They're the ones who have to pick up the pieces. I have to step back and think about what is best for the girls and the program. I don't want this to continue to negatively affect them."
Cannon Falls Athletic Director Jake Winchell said he planned to post the job opening Tuesday.
The Bomber Dance Team has won six state titles in the past 11 years.
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