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Norwin band director suspended

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 11:01 a.m.

The popular director of the Norwin High School band remains suspended pending the results of what an official called 'an outside investigation.'

Louis 'L.J.' Hancock, who has taught at Norwin for 27 years, was relieved of his duties with pay, said Dr. Richard Watson, district superintendent. He said confidentiality agreements barred him from revealing which agency was conducting the investigation, or for what reason.

'It's not anything I can comment on,' Watson said. 'They've asked us not to, and we've agreed to cooperate in that area.'

District administrators are conducting their own inquiry, the superintendent said, but don't know when it will be complete.

'I wish I could give a date,' Watson said, 'but we're certainly going to move it along as quickly as possible.'

Though speculation about the band director's position has been rampant, news of his suspension became public only this week.

A school director who declined to be identified said yesterday that Hancock was suspended by the administration before the Independence Day holiday. The school director referred further questions to Watson.

A person answering the telephone at Hancock's home last night said he was out of town and not available for comment.

The band is currently conducting its summer camp under the leadership of Assistant Band Director Devon Lippmann, Watson said.

'We're running all of our activities as we have in previous years,' the superintendent said.

A graduate of Norwin High School and Gettysburg College, Hancock has led the band since 1976 and in February was nominated 'educator of the year' by the Norwin Council of PTAs.

In addition to working as band director, Hancock chairs the music department and taught several music classes. He is a former adjunct professor of music education at Duquesne University, Uptown.

Under Hancock's tutelage, the Norwin band has won 17 state and 20 regional titles and won the championship last year from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Marching Band Association.

In early 1998, Hancock briefly resigned during a dispute with the school board over his budget, teaching duties and staff. Hancock rescinded the resignation after nearly 200 band parents packed a school board meeting in his support.

'I haven't had any reactions from any (parents) yet, but I'm sure there are a lot of concerned people,' Watson said. Whether Hancock's employment is presented to the school board for a formal vote depends in part on the outcome of the investigation, the superintendent said.

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