DULUTH – The remainder of Proctor High School's football season is canceled, players learned Wednesday, as a police investigation into alleged student misconduct continues.
The district suspended football activities last week following reported allegations that have not been made public.
In the announcement Wednesday, Superintendent John Engelking said the cancellation allows for "due diligence" for the investigation into alleged "serious misconduct."
"Please know that this decision was not made hastily, and it was made with consultation with the Proctor Police Department, the Minnesota State High School League, the Proctor Public Schools Crisis Team, and legal counsel," he said.
"We will take action against substantiated misconduct and we will address any and all problems in the football program; we are absolutely confident that when the program resumes next season, we will be RailStrong by representing our families, school, and community in a positive way both on and off the field and by doing the right thing at all times."
Meanwhile, the coach of the team, Derek Parendo, "is currently not conducting any coaching duties," Engelking said in an earlier interview.
Parendo, employed by Proctor schools in various coaching, administrative and teaching roles since 2000, continues to be employed as a science teacher and as football coach. Engelking wouldn't say whether Parendo was still collecting pay for his coaching role or whether he was put on leave.
Engelking said Parendo wasn't under investigation and "hasn't done anything wrong," but the school is "looking at a change" in programming.
Citing privacy laws, Engelking would not disclose whether any students have been disciplined. Proctor Police Chief Kent Gaidis said the investigation isn't expected to be concluded this week.
Todd Becker, parent to a football player, said team members would also not be permitted to participate in next week's homecoming festivities.
While it's understandable during the investigation, a wholesale cancellation "hurts the innocent kids," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of them had nothing to do with it."
Social media and rampant rumors are worsening an already shocking situation, Becker said, with many critics painting the entire team with a single broad brush before facts have been laid out.
"It's to the point where [my son] isn't wearing his Proctor football shirt and hat in town," Becker said.
Jana Hollingsworth • 218-508-2450