At Monday night’s District 202 School Board meeting, student representative Barbara Tomaradze, a current junior at Evanston Township High School, told board members and administrators that the school did not take action against a former marching band color guard coach despite complaints of misconduct against the staff member.
That coach, Lorenzo J. Medrano, 61, was charged with child seduction in September for inappropriately touching a 16-year-old student at a high school in northwest Indiana where he also worked in recent years. ETHS employed Medrano as a part-time coach from 2017 to 2020. According to WSBT Television in South Bend, the Indiana high school fired him in 2020.
“There’s another thing that I really don’t want to talk about, but I feel like nobody else is going to if I don’t,” Tomaradze said at the end of the November 8 board meeting. “Over the past week, a couple articles have been going around about a prior ETHS coach that has been arrested for child seduction in Indiana, and it’s known that students at ETHS complained about this coach, but other fellow coaches protected him, and the complaints were dismissed and he kept working here.”
According to ETHS Communications Director Takumi Iseda, Medrano is not currently working with any ETHS students and will not be coaching pending the outcome of the Indiana seduction case against him.
Tomaradze told board members she feared for the safety of other students who may no longer feel comfortable sharing similar complaints anymore because of the way staff members handled the allegations against Medrano. She said she spoke up so that something would finally be done to address possible wrongdoing at ETHS.
“This is the school’s reputation, but these are our lives, and I want to make sure that nobody’s put into danger because of the protection of other employees at ETHS,” she said. “I’m not sure what went wrong with that complaint or who’s at fault, but I’m sure something did go wrong.”
Board President Pat Savage-Williams was the only member who responded directly to Tomaradze, saying that she appreciates her courage in speaking out about this issue and that the district will respond. The district knows it has work to do and will learn from past mistakes, Savage-Williams said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the recording of the meeting on the ETHS YouTube channel was no longer posted and available for the public to view. Iseda did not immediately respond to a request from the RoundTable for comment on why the video is not online any more.
“We don’t know what to think. We don’t know what to say,” Tomaradze said. “We’re just talking to each other, and we’re scared and worried because ETHS has a message that we’re safe here and we can come to you about things, but this instance is sending the complete opposite message.”
This is disturbing that a child had to call out the obvious to room full adults who are supposed to be looking out for the students. I commend Barbara Tomaradze for her courage. I’m sure it was very difficult to speak out. There needs to be an investigation on how ETHS handled this. Aren’t the police supposed to be notified when there are allegations of assault? Why was the police not involved?
I applaud Tomaradze’s leadership. Hopefully her willingness to be a voice for students will lead to a safe process for inviting others to come forward with additional information.
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