A longtime Minnesota high-school football coach has stepped down amid a police investigation into hazing that students say saw a football player forcibly held down and sodomized.
Derek Parendo, head coach at Proctor High School, resigned “all positions” with the school district on Monday night, Superintendent John Engelking told the Duluth News Tribune. Parendo had served as the football coach since 2008, and he had worked for the school district for 21 years. The school board accepted a separation agreement with the coach late Monday.
His resignation is just the latest development in a twisted saga that has gripped the suburban Duluth town of 3,000 for weeks and prompted school officials to offer counseling to students. While school officials and the Proctor Police Department have confirmed only that the investigation involves allegations of “serious misconduct” on the football team, several students interviewed by CBS Minnesota last week described a brutal hazing incident that was posted on social media.
“It’s bad, it’s bad,” one senior high school student, Phoenix Koski, told the news outlet. Multiple students cited in the report said a football player was forcibly held down while a teammate used an object to sodomize him. Videos and photos of the attack are said to have spread like wildfire on Snapchat.
The school subsequently canceled the entire football season late last month, though officials remain tightlipped about the specific allegations that prompted the police investigation.
At the school board meeting late Monday, Engelking cited privacy laws as the reason more details have not been disclosed, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Despite the school district’s silence, he said, the investigation has been “all consuming.”
“You need to know we are doing everything we can to support our students and staff,” Engelking was quoted saying.
The absence of any official explanation has only further fueled concerns among students and parents in the school community.
Making matters worse, the scandal comes just a few weeks after a former high-school basketball coach and teacher within the district was charged with first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Police say Todd R. Clark sexually assaulted a 15-year-old student.
“It makes me uncomfortable knowing my siblings are in that school,” Stephen Carlsness, who graduated from Proctor High in 2016, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He said “nothing is being done” at the school about the toxic behavior.
With three children attending schools within the district, Amanda Fitzsimmons told the Star Tribune that parents were also on edge, and school officials weren’t making things any easier.
“The rumors are serious enough that the school should be able to tell us [at least] that they are safe,” she was quoted saying. “We just had a teacher charged with criminal sexual conduct. I think we deserve more than ‘misconduct took place in our school.’ I think it would calm rumors if they said … people will be held accountable.”