Lake Zurich District 95 to launch search for athletic director, dean
Lake Zurich Unit District 95 plans to soon start seeking replacements for a high school athletic director and dean who resigned amid an investigation of football team hazing that began last fall.
School board members have accepted the resignations of Lake Zurich High School athletics boss Rolando Vazquez and dean Chad Beaver, an assistant football coach. Beaver's resignation is effective Jan. 20, while Vazquez won't leave until the academic year ends.
Principal Kent Nightlinger said in a statement that formal postings for those jobs will occur "in the near future." Board members at a meeting Thursday approved the promotion of history teacher Matthew Aiello to interim high school dean of students starting Jan. 20.
School board members on Jan. 26 are expected to approve the resignation of head football coach David Proffitt, who also is a physical education teacher. Proffitt, 70, said he took an initial step of submitting a letter to the board Thursday and does not know when his resignation will be effective.
"It was very, very hard for me to make that decision," said Proffitt, who denied any knowledge of football player hazing until after the allegations became public. He said he resigned in the best interest of the school and community.
The three resignations come in the wake of an investigation that indicated inappropriate behavior occurred in the football locker room about a week before a Nov. 5 playoff game against Fenwick High School, according to District 95. Emails the Daily Herald obtained from the district through an open-records request referred to the activity as hazing.
Lake Zurich police reports obtained in December show a sexual abuse investigation was conducted while authorities looked into the hazing claims. Police concluded they lacked evidence to pursue charges against any athletes, in part, due to a lack of cooperation from witnesses.
District 95 board President Doug Goldberg said an Arlington Heights law firm has finished its independent investigation of the football program and other extracurricular activities.
"We are awaiting a final public report as quickly as it can be finalized without violating relevant privacy laws," Goldberg said. "This report will help us to identify any additional steps to help our football program and school continue to grow and improve. We are committed to these programs and to offering many wonderful extracurricular opportunities for our students."
Officials said changes already have started, such as keeping athletic dressing rooms locked closed when a school employee is not available to supervise. Schedules are in place to identify each coach assigned to supervise a locker room at any time.
District 95 also has hired a national expert in hazing and prevention to work with school employees to lead education programs.
Police documents show the criminal sexual abuse investigation was launched Nov. 8. Many sections of the documents were blacked out, so it's unclear what specifically might have occurred about 7 p.m. Oct. 27, after a weekly football team dinner at the high school.
Beaver told high school resource officer Mark Frey Oct. 31 he received information from an employee, who is not identified in documents, about a "commotion" in the football locker room during a weekly bonding tradition involving teammates, according to police reports. The tradition involves taking a vote on which player should be teased and dressed in costume, police said.
Frey wrote that he interviewed the unidentified employee at police headquarters Nov. 11. The worker said "he looked right at the group of students in a shocked manner" in the locker room, but much of what he described was blacked out in the document.
"I asked (the employee) if he said anything to anyone in the locker room," Frey wrote. "He stated he said something to the effect of, 'That's wrong,' but no one could hear him because of the music. He then left the locker room and returned upstairs."
Authorities said they began the investigation after the Daily Herald reported all 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.
Beaver and Proffitt have been on paid administrative leave since the controversy began.