Impassioned statements made by current and former Maine West High School students, and one parent, in support of coaches scrutinized by the school district over bullying and hazing allegations were not enough to convince board members to continue employing the varsity soccer coach and high school teacher Michael DiVincenzo.
Tait Jensen said he played on the varsity soccer team at Maine West for three years, and was co-captain of the team for one year.
“The culture Divo and Rodriguez created and sanctioned was exactly what you want your schools’ athletic programs to have,” Jensen said. “It wasn’t a culture of hazing or mistreatment or assault; it was an atmosphere of friendship and understanding that fostered trust amongst players and coaches.”
The Maine Township High School District 207 Board of Education voted unanimously, 7-0, to adopt a resolution which initiates the dismissal process of a tenured teacher, DiVincenzo, as stipulated by Illinois school code, Sean Sullivan, board president, read from a prepared statement after the vote was taken at a meeting in Park Ridge on Wednesday.
DiVincenzo was suspended without pay, pending the dismissal process, according to the resolution adopted by D-207, and he has 17 days from the time he receives dismissal documents to request a hearing before a hearing officer selected through the Illinois State Board of Education.
“If a hearing is requested, the process can take up to one year or more to complete,” Sullivan said. “The hearing officer will recommend a decision to the Board of Education, which makes the final decision, subject to appeal to the courts.”