Lake Zurich superintendent: Football probe will lead to 'safe and secure culture'
Potential changes prompted by an ongoing investigation of Lake Zurich High School's football team will be long-term and create a "safe and secure culture," Lake Zurich Unit District 95 Superintendent Kaine Osburn says.
Osburn addressed the investigation after Wednesday night's school board meeting, its first since police said they are investigating reports of inappropriate behavior in the football locker room days before a Nov. 5 state playoff game against Fenwick High School.
He said no decisions regarding extracurricular activities will be made until completion of an internal probe led by an Arlington Heights law firm.
"We will do the work necessary to get through this so that we make sure we have a safe and secure culture for our kids on a regular basis," Osburn said. "And that is not a one-time thing. That takes sustained work.
"And that's what I want to get across to people. This won't be a one-time thing where we checked the box and said we did something," he said. "We have to change people's perspectives and culture around certain behaviors, and that's what we're setting out to do."
Police said they began the investigation after the Daily Herald reported football players were ordered to sign a student behavior agreement before the Fenwick game or be prohibited from playing the rest of the 2016 season. The agreement was part of a letter sent to players and parents.
Although the letter provided no details about what happened, it included several references to hazing. It said team members participated in "inappropriate activity" in the locker room after team dinners.
Some parents who spoke at Wednesday's school board meeting criticized District 95 officials for forcing the football players to sign the student behavior agreement, contending it stemmed from an incomplete investigation.
Laurie Stutzman, whose son is a football player, said she supports the team and its coaches. She complimented the district for limiting public information in an effort to protect students' privacy.
"I hope that this can be shut down, because newsworthy things are about good things taking place," Stutzman said. "This is done. This is over."
An attorney who handled a lawsuit alleging hazing among boys soccer players at Maine West High School in Des Plaines has been retained by the family of a student-athlete alleged to have been victimized by Lake Zurich football players.
Antonio Romanucci contends there was "widespread, egregious" misconduct by some Lake Zurich football team members over the last few months.
Osburn said District 95 administrators acted quickly and notified a school resource officer after an employee told them about something that occurred in the football locker room. He said the school police officer alerted Lake Zurich police superiors and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was notified.
Head football coach David Proffitt and assistant Chad Beaver were placed on paid administrative leave just before the Fenwick game, which the Bears lost 20-14 to end their season. Proffitt is a physical education teacher at the school, and Beaver is a dean.
Osburn stressed the paid leave for Proffitt and Beaver is a typical step when conducting a personnel inquiry and does not indicate wrongdoing.