Proctor High School football coach resigns amid investigation

The football coach at a small high school in northeastern Minnesota has resigned amid a police investigation into what district leaders describe as “player misconduct” on his team.

John Engelking, superintendent of the Proctor public school district, confirmed that the school board accepted the resignation of Derek Parendo from his coaching and teaching jobs at Proctor High School on Monday, effective at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

Parendo is on a paid, personal leave of absence for the remainder of the current year.

Officials canceled the football season for all high school grades in September amid the investigation.

Police have said little about the investigation because it involves juveniles. Engelking defended the school district’s handling of the situation to the board, pushing back against what he called “misinformation” spread on social media that the district “isn’t doing anything about the reported incidents that happened on our football team.”

“The reason we can't speak more about it is because we are bound by Minnesota statute. We cannot talk about what's going on with our students,” he said, to protect their privacy.

Engelking also told school board members on Monday night that extra counseling has been offered to students and that the athletic department has implemented character-building programming. He called the investigation “all-consuming.”

“We're doing everything we can to support our kids and our staff,” he said. “We need to be cognizant of the fact that it's OK to take a step back and be there for each other.”

Proctor is a city of about 3,000 people just west of Duluth.

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