SPRINGFIELD — Teachers and administrators who don’t report hazing like what happened at Maine West and Hoffman Estates high schools could themselves face criminal hazing charges under a plan approved by the Illinois House Friday.
“They’re going to be held just as responsible as the hazer,” said state Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat.
Moylan started moving the plan this year after the scandals at Maine West and Hoffman Estates.
At Maine West, two 14-year-old soccer players say they were sexually assaulted last year as part of a hazing ritual. District 207 fired two Maine West soccer coaches and has hired an independent investigator to look into the hazing allegations. In Hoffman Estates, members of the boys’ varsity basketball team were accused of hazing fellow students off campus in late November.
On Friday, the Illinois House approved Moylan’s plan by a 104-3 vote.
Under his plan, most school officials could themselves face misdemeanor hazing charges if they know about hazing at a school and don’t report it to authorities.
But lawmakers had questions about some of the details. State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, an Elmhurst Republican, asked if it could be confusing what would qualify as hazing compared to just general horseplay. And state Rep. Jim Durkin, a Western Springs Republican, asked about whether schools themselves could be liable in a lawsuit in some hazing cases.
When the state hazing plan won preliminary approval earlier this year, District 207 spokesman Dave Beery said officials were reviewing their hazing policies but didn’t oppose state efforts.
“We are focused primarily on our own responsibilities and initiatives, further building on the policies and procedures we have had in place all along,” Beery said at the time.
The legislation was Moylan’s first to move off the House floor and on to the Illinois Senate.
Ironically, that distinction traditionally comes with verbal hazing of the freshman lawmaker from veteran officials.
Moylan didn’t take a lot of ribbing Friday given the legislation’s subject matter. But the debate wasn’t without lighter moments, either, as lawmakers razzed him over his previous tenure as Des Plaines mayor.
“One of the members of my freshman class is a mayor,” said state Rep. Mike Bost, a Republican from downstate Murphysboro known for loud outbursts on the House floor. “Now, he only lasted about six months. And his position was that he actually got more respect as a mayor than he did a state rep. Do you feel like you need to go back to being mayor?”
“I feel like we have 118 mayors in this building right now,” Moylan said of the 118-member Illinois House. “And we are all part of one team ... and I feel all these questions make our bills stronger.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.