Bentworth School District separates shower facilities
By Tony LaRussa
Published: Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Revelations that convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky molested boys while showering with them on the Penn State campus has prompted at least one local school district to build separate shower facilities for coaches and referees.
“This decision is a direct result of the Sandusky scandal,” said Charles Baker, superintendent of the Bentworth School District in Washington County. “Our athletic director, who deals directly with a number of referees, brought their concerns to our attention.
“We felt that creating a separate facility was a prudent way to protect our student athletes as well as the coaches and refs,” Baker said.
Sandusky, 68, is in jail awaiting sentencing for his conviction in June for sexually molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Some of the incidents happened in the showers in Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus in State College.
Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association rules require districts such as Bentworth that do not have separate shower facilities to use a staggered schedule to prevent adults and students from showering together, said Mark Byers, PIAA's chief operating officer.
Baker estimates it will cost about $9,000 to block off a portion of one shower room with a concrete wall and create a 10- by 12-foot shower and changing area that has a separate hallway and entrance.
The project is expected to be completed in time for the winter sports season, Baker said.
Byers said he was not aware of any other district in the state that was creating separate shower areas for adults.
“I think Bentworth should be applauded for this action,” Byers said. “Given the budget constraints districts face, I hesitate to suggest that they go out and build new facilities. But certainly other schools should consider following their lead and take steps to make changes to the facilities they already have.”
Timothy Gabauer, superintendent of the McKeesport Area School District, said discussions began “just last (Wednesday) night on the possibility of changing our plans to build an addition to the middle school so it includes separate showering facilities.
Gabauer said indoor sports such as basketball and wrestling are played at the middle school.
“Money is tight, but when we sit down to start prioritizing what we want to do, I believe something like this makes sense,” he said.
Woodland Hills Superintendent Alan N. Johnson said if his district did not already have shower and changing rooms separate from those used by students, “it would be something I absolutely without question would recommend.”
Quaker Valley Superintendent Joseph Clapper agrees.
“We're fortunate to already have separate facilities for adults and students,” he said. “But after the Sandusky scandal, we did ask ourselves a lot of questions internally to make sure we were managing things appropriately because student safety is always paramount.”
Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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