District 95 says it acted promptly to investigate football team
Lake Zurich Unit District 95 officials have assured parents they acted promptly and launched a full investigation into accusations involving the high school's football team that are also the subject of a police probe.
The joint statement issued Thursday by Superintendent Kaine Osburn and Lake Zurich High School Principal Kent Nightlinger also said privacy laws and other considerations prohibit them from revealing much about the matter.
Osburn and Nightlinger said those laws must be followed and specific information about student behavior or discipline cannot be released. District employees also have a right to privacy under the law, they added.
"The focus of the investigation is broad," according to the statement posted on the school's website. "It began by investigating student behavior, and is continuing by looking at supervisory issues and program protocols."
Village police said they are investigating reportedly inappropriate behavior in a school football locker room days before a Nov. 5 state playoff game against Fenwick High School.
Authorities said they began their probe after the Daily Herald reported football players were ordered to sign a student behavior agreement before the Fenwick game or be prohibited from playing the rest of the 2016 season. The agreement was part of a letter sent to players and parents.
The letter obtained by the Daily Herald provided no details about what happened, but it included several references to hazing. It said team members participated in "inappropriate activity" in the locker room after team dinners.
Lake Zurich police said administrators informed a school resource officer about what might have occurred, but no report was filed because District 95 officials wanted to investigate it internally. The district said the school officer was notified of an "incident" Oct. 31.
Head football coach David Proffitt and assistant Chad Beaver were placed on paid administrative leave just before the Fenwick game, which the Bears lost 20-14 to end their season. Proffitt is a physical education teacher at the school and Beaver is a dean.
District 95 school board members will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, in the high school library. The meeting will be the first for the board since the accusations became publicly known.
Lake Zurich High football is among the sports that have received longtime support from residents and the business community. Downtown Lake Zurich typically is awash in school colors with messages of support in business windows when a team is in the state playoffs.
However, a downtown business owner said Thursday the relationship might change because of the accusations.
Karl Sehnke, co-owner and coach at CrossFit Lake Zurich, said he believes there has been a culture of business owners "blindly" supporting the successful high school teams "in the name of marketing alone."
"It would be completely ignorant (of) business owners to continue (football) support without massive changes both in athletic leadership and school administration," Sehnke said.
The accusations haven't gone unnoticed within the school's corridors. This week, someone placed posters on walls critical of Proffitt, Beaver and the players.