Official: Lake Park football probe nearing conclusion

  • Frank J. Battaglia

    Frank J. Battaglia

 
 
Updated 11/7/2019 4:16 PM

Lake Park High School's internal probe into its football program appears to be coming to a conclusion.

In an email sent at 6:03 p.m. Wednesday, District 108 Communications Coordinator Sheri Anderson wrote "Based upon its comprehensive fact-finding investigation, the district plans to meet with the employees by the end of the week to review the administrative findings and any appropriate corrective actions and disciplinary sanctions."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It does not say if those findings will be made public and officials have not answered phone calls about the matter.

The probe focuses on how a volunteer football coach, Frank J. Battaglia, 72, was allowed to work with this year's Lancers despite having pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a high school girl in the early 1990s.

Since his background came to light, the district has indefinitely suspended head coach Chris Roll and placed Principal Dominic Manola and Athletic Director Pete Schauer on administrative leave.

District officials have said they require criminal background checks and fingerprinting of all volunteers involved in co-curricular programs, including all athletics and activities.

They said head coaches and sponsors are required to submit a roster of volunteers and paid coaches to the human resources and athletic departments authorizing criminal background checks.

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It is unclear whether Roll submitted such information and whether Battaglia's background would have been discovered even if he had. Battaglia is not listed on the state's registry of sex offenders.

More than 5,000 people, meanwhile, have signed an online petition calling for Roll's immediate reinstatement at the Roselle school.

The change.org petition, started Saturday night by a group of parents, calls on school board members to "own up to the fact that they unfairly targeted him (Roll) for their mistakes."

The internal probe comes against the backdrop of a search for a new superintendent to replace Lynn Panega, who is stepping down at the end of the school year. The school board is interviewing candidates for her post this week.

Panega has not responded to phone calls seeking comment on the internal investigation.

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