Lester: No suburban public schools ban solo meetings of coaches, athletes

With former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's admission that he molested Yorkville High School wrestlers decades ago, I checked suburban public high schools' policies and found none ban one-on-one time between coaches and student athletes.

Two school districts out of 32 surveyed, Lisle Unit District 202 and McHenry High School District 156, advise coaches to be careful about being alone with students, but don't formally prohibit it.

I reported a few weeks ago that the Illinois High School Association lacks formal rules to prevent sexual abuse of students, an issue I looked into after Hastert, of Plano, admitted in court that he abused four former students when he was a coach years ago.

But unlike the Chicago Archdiocese and Boy Scouts of America, which implemented specific policies regarding travel and contact with students following abuse scandals, public high schools' policies are far more vague.

<h3 class="leadin">An argument for rules

“I know it would be a lot of extra money, a lot of extra time and legal fees, but I think they've got to have them,” said Pat McNamara, a longtime athletic director and boys' basketball coach.

McNamara is a resident of Yorkville, where Hastert lived and coached. He was a student athlete at Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie, New York, whose baseball coach was convicted of sexual abuse. He has coached at Plano High School, Aurora Christian Schools and Marmion Academy in Aurora, and others.

He's seen a range of policies, with Marmion's being the strictest by prohibiting students and coaches from being alone in a room together. He backs that approach.

“If you can't be in a room alone with a student, and you know that, you're already in trouble when you do it and they can do something about it,” he said. “I think you've just got to be clear with (coaches) and clear with the kids, to know what's an appropriate behavior and not appropriate behavior.”

<h3 class="leadin">Meanwhile, a diet I can do

I ran into state Sen. Jim Oberweis the other day at the annual Northwest Municipal Conference gala and noticed the Sugar Grove Republican had lost weight. “I've switched to frozen yogurt,” the dairy magnate cracked, noting he has 15 more pounds to go before he reaches his goal.

<h3 class="leadin">New chief

Congratulations to Des Plaines Mayor Matt Bogusz, who takes over as president of the municipal conference from Rolling Meadows Mayor Tom Rooney.

I asked Northwest Municipal Conference Director Mark Fowler: Is Bogusz, at age 29, the youngest municipal conference head in history? While there aren't any official records, “comparing Mayor Bogusz' picture to those of the past presidents that adorn our conference room wall, I think it's safe to say that he is our youngest,” Fowler replied.

<h3 class="leadin">Around town

Des Plaines library officials began flying the rainbow flag outside the library as a symbol of solidarity and support for the victims of the June 12 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

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On Wednesday, "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" featured Jack Aiello of Arlington Heights, who impersonated presidential candidate Donald Trump alongside Fallon. Courtesy of Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

Storm chasing

Imagine the anticipation of having your kid's performance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” scheduled to air at 10:35 p.m. last Wednesday, only to have the broadcast pre-empted locally by storm coverage.

“Who'd have guessed the weather?” said John Aiello, dad of 14-year-old impersonations star Jack. “People from around the country have seen it, and loved it!” Thankfully, Fallon posted the sketch, where Jack appears as “Little Donald” Trump, online later that night.

<h3 class="leadin">Formal props

GOP state Rep. David Harris tells me he's introducing a resolution in the Illinois House seeking to honor Jack and laud his ability to impersonate the voices of famous people.

“Is the kid great, or what?” Harris remarked, adding, “You know he's headed to our alma mater of St. Viator (High School).”

Attending the school is a bit of a tradition for the family, as John Aiello was a graduate of the class of 1986 at the Arlington Heights school.

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