Crowd of candidates vying for Proctor School Board includes former football coach

Proctor Public Schools sign
Proctor Public Schools sign(Northern News Now)
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 4:38 PM CDT
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PROCTO, MN. (Northern News Now) - A crowd of candidates are vying for four open seats on the Proctor School Board, including the high school’s former football coach who resigned in the wake of a sexual assault on his team.

The seven candidates currently running for the board include: current board members Larry Shelton, Joe Ward, Lynn Peterson and Amy Pocrnich. The three other candidates are Tom Covington, Leah Blevins and Derek Parendo.

Parendo is the former head football coach at Proctor High School, who resigned from the post in 2021.

Parendo’s resignation came after a player, who was 17 at the time, sexually assaulted his younger teammate with a toilet plunger after practice.

According to court documents, several other players held the victim down while the assault happened in September 2021.

The now 18-year-old suspect pleaded guilty earlier this year and was sentenced to probation.

In August, the parents of the victim sued Parendo, the assistant football coaches at the time, and the former superintendent of the district, accusing them of knowing about alleged ongoing hazing within the Proctor football team and failing to take action.

Northern News Now reached out to Parendo and the other candidates running for the board Wednesday.

Some were not available to comment, but others, including Parendo, didn’t respond to requests to talk about their campaigns.

We reached out out the Superintendent of Proctor Schools, Kerry Juntunen, who also did not want to comment on the candidates running for school board, but provided a statement about what he’s hoping to see in the new school board:

“I will not be able to provide a public comment but have this bullet list for you.

• The board’s primary role is the establishment of policy.

• Works with the superintendent and community to develop a vision for the schools.

• Advocates on behalf of students and their schools and promotes the benefits of public education.

• Supports the superintendent in all decisions that conform to board policy, other decisions made by the board, or recognized professional standards.

• Provides for policy on the effective management of complaints.

• Provides for the periodic review of policies.

• Ensures board members understand that, under law, the school board acts as a board and that individual board members have no independent authority.”

An eighth candidate, David Reyelts, will also appear on the ballot in this race. But he told Northern News Now Wednesday that he is no longer running.

“...I have officially dropped out. I need to focus my time and energy on my family and my job at the moment. The timing was just not right,” Reyelts wrote.