Around dismissal time on Tuesday, a small crowd of sign-waving adults and teens covered the corner of Ugstad Road and Third Street near Proctor High School — support for the unnamed target of some football players’ recent misconduct allegations.

Some drivers honked in support of the handwritten messages — “justice” and “football should be safe & fun.” At least one student called from a bus window: “You’re not helping anything.”

The Rails’ football season has been stalled while the Proctor Police Department continues to investigate allegations that involve juveniles and have not been made public. On Tuesday, a representative from the police department said the investigation is still active, but could not define the nature of it, or offer a timeline for conclusion because of privacy issues.

Derek Parendo is still on staff and remains the team’s coach, according to Superintendent John Engelking.

Proctor football team under investigation for alleged misconduct

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Proctor’s School Board chair preempted the public participation segment of its regularly scheduled meeting Monday. There would be no discussion of the much talked about investigation into the football team’s actions.

“Public comment will not be allowed for situations surrounding recent concerts of recent student misconduct,” Jennifer McDonald said during the public meeting at St. Luke’s Sports & Event Center, citing data privacy acts for students and faculty. “We can’t and won’t be commenting further on the ongoing police investigation involving our football program.”

While officials are citing privacy laws, social media is drawing buzz from the Proctor community and beyond. Students are sharing information via SnapChat; their parents are taking it to Facebook groups.

The internet chatter was enough to call Colleen Crumley to action. She initiated two events, one before school and another after on Tuesday, to show support for the victim, she said. She doesn’t have a child in the Proctor school district — her son plays football in Cloquet — but she said: “This could be any of us.”

 A student walks by a group of 15 or so people gathered near Proctor High School on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2021, seeking justice regarding recent allegations about players on the Proctor football team. Samantha Erkkila / Duluth News Tribune
A student walks by a group of 15 or so people gathered near Proctor High School on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2021, seeking justice regarding recent allegations about players on the Proctor football team. Samantha Erkkila / Duluth News Tribune

“We’re out here saying, ‘We’re here for you if you need us,’” she said. “We want to support you.”

Alesia Leskey stood on the corner with her family. She has a daughter in middle school and said she is worried about student safety. She feels like administrators should have done more in the wake of the allegations about the players from the football team.

“There’s an issue,” she said. “And they’re not doing anything to make people feel safer.”

Ordinarily, sophomore Morgan Quick would have been on his way to football practice, but the lineman was instead on his way home — past the support rally.

“I think it’s messed up,” he said of what he has heard happened, but did not himself see. “Who wouldn’t think it’s messed up?”

This story was updated at 4:41 p.m. Sept. 28 to include comments from students and parents. It was originally posted at 10:46 a.m. Sept. 28.

Golden retrievers Yeti and Newie wear signs around their neck saying "Be Kind" during a gathering outside Proctor High School on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Samantha Erkkila / Duluth News Tribune
Golden retrievers Yeti and Newie wear signs around their neck saying "Be Kind" during a gathering outside Proctor High School on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Samantha Erkkila / Duluth News Tribune


A group of people looking for answers in the wake of the allegations against Proctor football players gathered at the corner of Ugstad Road and Third Street near Proctor High School as the school day was ending on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Samantha Erkkila / Duluth News Tribune
A group of people looking for answers in the wake of the allegations against Proctor football players gathered at the corner of Ugstad Road and Third Street near Proctor High School as the school day was ending on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Samantha Erkkila / Duluth News Tribune