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Maine West Coach Fired Over Hazing Allegations

Hundreds attended a special Maine Township High School District 207 meeting in Park Ridge on Wednesday to discuss personnel issues related to the bullying and hazing allegations at Maine West High School.

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.”

Harry Gio December 20, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Shame on all of them!
Laura Wagner December 20, 2012 at 10:19 PM
OK, I admit I don't know anything about the details here, but a few things strike me: Anyone who was co-captain of the team is not really going to be sympathetic to a kid who was a lot further down the totem pole. Of course he's going to support the coach who helped get him into that position. Also (and I know my prejudices are showing here), a guy who encourages his students to call him "Divo" as a nickname for Di Vincenzo--and every single kid quoted in this space who supported him called him that, repeatedly--is suspect in my book. Just my unsupported opinions. In closing, I feel great sorrow for everyone involved here--the boys who were victimized, the coaches who were accused, and the kids who are losing a teacher and coach they love. Even the board members have had a tough time in recent weeks. No one wins. Remember kids: Don't join the mob! Be your own person, and think before you act, especially when someone could get hurt.
deb December 21, 2012 at 12:40 AM
The reason there are co-captains and captains on a team is to help lead the team by example. These are the kids that show leadership and are respected by their peers. Are you sure the coach "encouraged" the students to call him that - or possibly did the students nickname him that and it stuck in the years following? Everyone lost in this as you said.
Lisa December 30, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Almost all the teachers there have abbreviated nicknames, it has nothing to do with their actions. People have been executed and put on death row with prejudices and attitudes like yours. Example - go watch "West of Memphis." Those attitudes towards a coach and teacher who was loved by many, whom you do not even know. You have no right to judge. He was not just admired only by those captains, but many others who were not even in sports. From A MW parent.
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Patricia Sullivan Snyder January 26, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Good decision by the school board to let this guy go. Given the accusations, he can't coach effectively, which is what've was hired to do. The school district has better things to spend its money on, like education. There is enough evidence that he did something wrong to terminate him.

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