Letter: Lake Zurich High football players disciplined for 'inappropriate activity'
Lake Zurich High School football players were ordered by administrators to sign a student behavior agreement or be prohibited from playing the rest of the 2016 season after team members participated in "inappropriate activity" in the days before Saturday's playoff game.
In the letter obtained Monday by the Daily Herald, Lake Zurich Unit District 95 administrators stated the activity took place Thursday in the locker room after the team dinners. The letter did not specify what happened, but it included several references to hazing.
"The activity was egregious and warrants discipline, including suspension from school activities," the letter stated.
Lake Zurich's head football coach, David Proffitt, and assistant coach Chad Beaver were placed on paid administrative leave just before the Bears playoff game Saturday against Fenwick in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs. Other coaches led the team, and the Bears lost 20-14, ending their season.
Proffitt said Saturday he was on leave for something involving his team.
"It has nothing to do with me personally other than I'm responsible for their actions," he said.
Jean Malek, spokeswoman for District 95, said in an emailed statement Monday "any concerns raised about student misconduct are taken very seriously and are investigated thoroughly."
When asked about the letter signed by players and parents, she said it is a "pledge" to become better educated about positive decision making strategies.
"We considered this the best response to behaviors that came to our attention which were not consistent with the school's expectations for players' off the field," she said in a later email. "These steps go along with others we are taking to candidly evaluate any flaws or opportunities to improve our football program as our inquiry continues."
School board President Douglas Goldberg would not comment when reached Monday evening.
Officials from the Lake County state's attorney's office said they were made aware of allegations Monday and are working with local police to determine what took place.
District 95 said in its letter that due to the "widespread nature of the conduct and the number of students who participated in or had knowledge of the activities and did not report it," it expects any football player to abide by certain conditions.
It required players and their parents to sign the agreement and return it to the principal by 10 a.m. Saturday -- hours before the game against Fenwick -- or forfeit their place on the team.
The letter outlined five conditions, including prohibiting players from holding partial or whole team meetings without adult supervision, and requiring parents and students to attend a workshop on positive decision making and hazing prevention. Students also must complete an online course on hazing prevention with pre- and post-tests, and work in groups to prepare a presentation for middle school students on the consequences of bullying and hazing.
Failure to meet any of the conditions would allow the administration to place students on social probation for two months and block their participation in prom, graduation or year-end activities, and the student could be banned from playing football for the school in 2017.
The letter also said the district is imposing a strict no-retaliation policy against the student that could lead to additional discipline.