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updated: 5/22/2013 4:14 PM

Details of hazing plan under scrutiny in Senate committee

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  • Dan Kotowski

      Dan Kotowski

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- A suburban Democrat says he'll make changes to a proposal that grew out of hazing scandals in the suburbs after lawmakers raised questions about how broadly it would be applied.

State Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, presented the plan to a Senate panel Wednesday. He wants to create a new crime called "failure to report hazing" in the wake of high-profile scandals at Maine West and Hoffman Estates high schools.

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The crime would apply only to "school officials," including teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, volunteer coaches and support staffers employed by a school district or university.

Still, the specifics raised questions, and Kotowski said he'll have to address them before he'll be able to win approval.

"I'd definitely be willing to address that in an amendment and get the language as specific as we can," Kotowski told members of the Senate committee.

State Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, asked if aides, parent volunteers, residents' assistants at universities and other people with negligible authority in a school environment would be mandated to report hazing.

"The situation you described in your district sounded absolutely awful, but a lot of times we come here because we want to remedy a situation and I'm worried about how broad this remedy is," Righter said.

A different proposal was approved by the Illinois House. State Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, wanted to change the law so people who didn't report hazing could themselves be charged with hazing.

The House and Senate have to agree to the same plan before it can go to Gov. Pat Quinn, and lawmakers have only a little more than a week before their session for the year is slated to end.

At Maine West, two 14-year-old soccer players say they were sexually assaulted last year as part of a hazing ritual. In Hoffman Estates, members of the boys' varsity basketball team were accused of hazing fellow students off campus in late November.

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