Demonstrators Demand More Action From Proctor Administration On Criminal Misconduct Allegations Against Football Team
While the investigation is ongoing, organizers say their primary message Tuesday was one of support for Proctor students during a tough time.
PROCTOR, Minn.- At a demonstration Tuesday, concerned parents and community members said the Proctor High School administration should do more in their handling of recent criminal misconduct allegations against members of the Rails Football team.
“Parents are here and we’re seeing and we’re hearing it all and we want to feel safe, we want to feel safe sending our kids,” said Alesia Leskey, a Proctor parent.
As Proctor High students left school for the day, they were greeted with signs of support from a dozen parents, community members, and students from nearby schools demanding more transparency and immediate action from the school.
“I feel like there should have been more immediate action happening rather than calling it misconduct because that’s not what it was,” said Leskey.
According to school officials, the specific allegations and the nature of the complaint are not public data. At a school board meeting Monday, Proctor Superintendent John Engelking said he is unable to comment on the situation until the police investigation is complete.
“I feel like the school didn’t handle the situation correctly — not to try to tell them how to do their job or anything — but the students, some of them are feeling unsafe,” Leskey said. “And with the accusations that are going on, these are serious.”
Demonstration organizer Colleen Crumley said kids should not be worried about bullying or threats to their safety, especially they say when many consider sports and extracurriculars their safe space.
“My son, he played football-he plays football for Cloquet,” Crumley said, “and it just really hit us personally, being a parent of a football player and him being like, ‘mom, is this what, am I gonna have to be scared of going into football games and locker rooms and stuff like that?'”
While details of the accusations have not been confirmed by officials, community members said it could deter any student who experiences misconduct in the future from coming forward.
“I would be terrified if I was a high schooler in football now,” said Anna Ebnet. “Like, imagine ‘oh my god, what if this happens to me and now nobody’s going to like, nobody can do anything about it because that predator’s protected.’”
“That is not fair, that is not right, that is not justice,” she said.
At the school board meeting, Engelking would not comment to FOX 21 if anyone on the team had been expelled from school. He did confirm that football Head Coach Derek Parendo is still employed in his position. He said the district has contingency plans in place, in regards to disciplinary actions that could be taken once the investigation is complete.
But parents Tuesday said that’s not enough.
“I feel like they could’ve suspended the students and the coach who the allegations are against,” said Leskey.
“And if the coaches are still involved in any type of school activities they should be pulled immediately,” Ebnet said, “cause that’s atrocious.”
While the investigation is ongoing, organizers say their primary message Tuesday was one of support for Proctor students.
“That kids need to be kept safe, and that should be the priority,” said Crumley. “The kid who was hurt should be the priority.”
Superintendent Engelking says he anticipates the investigation will conclude either Wednesday or Thursday of this week.
Monday’s Proctor School Board meeting did not include any discussion about the investigation in the agenda. Board Chair Jennifer McDonald went as far as to telling attendees to not even talk about the issue during public comment.
Engelking said off-camera that the district is not trying to hide anything from the public and that nothing is being, quote, “swept under the rug.”