Maine Township High School District 207 has a series of preventative measures regarding hazing and bullying planned, and has taken several steps already to address the issue, D-207 stated on Jan. 3. The statement came in response to allegations outlined by a former Maine West student at his attorney’s office in Chicago on Jan. 3.
Among the accusations, the former student and soccer player, now 19, said he believed coaches were aware of the physical and sexual assaults that he and many other players endured because, in part, he saw former boys varsity soccer coach Michael Divincenzo wink before and after the assaults took place.
The D-207 board of education voted unanimously to begin dismissal proceedings on Divincenzo in December, and the district was still considering disciplinary action against other staff members involved with the investigation into hazing and bullying incidents, D-207 stated.
Four current and former Maine West families have filed a hazing and bullying lawsuit, which names Divincenzo, Emilio Rodriguez, Maine West Principal Audrey Haugan and other D-207 administrators, faculty and staff.
In D-207’s statement on Thursday, the district noted two preventative measures it has already taken to address the issue, an anti-hazing pledge to be signed by all students and faculty who take part in extracurricular activities and additional training for faculty and staff, and five additional measures it intends to take. D-207 stated focus groups on hazing with students, parents and faculty would be conducted, an attorney will be hired to conduct an independent investigation into the matter, a hotline for students to report hazing and other incidents would be established and several other measures would be taken moving forward.