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District in northern Illinois settles football hazing lawsuit

Lake Zurich District 95 says it has instituted changes to prevent hazing incidents.

Lake Zurich (Ill.) Unit School District 95 has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of two students who say they were subjected to hazing while on the Lake Zurich High School football team.

The Daily Herald reports that the suit stems from allegations that surfaced in November 2016 just before a playoff game.

The district did not disclose the terms of the settlement, but a prepared statement says District 95 "has worked tirelessly to institute positive changes, especially across athletics and extracurriculars, to reflect the recommendations of an independent investigation conducted last fall."

After the allegations last year, school administrators ordered players to sign a student behavior agreement or be prohibited from playing the rest of the season.

A police investigation later determined criminal charges were not warranted, but a lawsuit filed on behalf of two players and their parents in February alleged that hazing had been a part of the school's athletic programs since 1997, with the knowledge of coaches and other officials.

Football hazing during the previous 20 years included players urinating on teammates or placing their genitals on other players' faces without consent, according to the lawsuit.

The district's statement:

"District 95 has entered into a settlement agreement in the civil lawsuits filed on behalf of two individuals related to hazing on the Lake Zurich High School football team. The settlement helps bring closure to the matter for the District and the families involved while avoiding further litigation costs. It is the belief of the District and the Board of Education that this settlement is in the best interest of all parties involved. In the past year, the District has worked tirelessly to institute positive changes, especially across athletics and extracurriculars, to reflect the recommendations of an independent investigation conducted last fall. Some of those changes include: implementation of an anonymous tip line, increased locker room supervision, positive-decision making and hazing prevention education programs, hiring of additional security personnel, and increased surveillance cameras. The District remains committed to providing high quality extracurricular and athletic experiences for all of our students, including a safe, healthy, and positive culture."

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