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Maine West coaches tied to hazing claims barred from school grounds

Emilio Rodriguez

Emilio Rodriguez

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Updated: January 3, 2013 6:33AM

The two coaches at the center of hazing allegations at Maine West High School are not allowed on school grounds as they wait out their temporary reassignment with pay, a spokesman said Friday.

Though their official status according to the school district is “temporarily reassigned with pay,” coaches Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez “have been relieved of their duties” and they’re prohibited from stepping onto school property, but they both have to be “readily available as needed,” Maine Township High School District 207 spokesman Dave Beery said. School officials are waiting for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to complete its investigation before taking further action.

Divincenzo, who earlier this week was at his Elk Grove Village apartment during school hours, has declined to comment.

Rodriguez could not be reached.

The school district clarified the men’s employment status only after repeated requests by the Sun-Times.

Police records and a civil lawsuit allege several hazing incidents have occurred at Maine West involving student athletes.

Six teenagers have been charged after an alleged Sept. 27 incident in which multiple players claimed they were sodomized on campus as part of an initiation into the soccer team, according to a lawsuit, which said three teens were assaulted that day. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two of those boys.

The victims told police that their teammates pulled down their underwear and sodomized them with fingers and sticks.

That lawsuit also includes allegations of hazing on the soccer team in 2007 and the baseball team in 2008.

Police reports indicate Divincenzo knew about some of the hazing incidents and allegedly watched on as one such incident occurred in July.

The school board has not yet been involved in the disciplinary action of the coaches as it waits for the DCFS investigation to be completed, school board President Sean Sullivan said.

A DCFS spokesman declined to comment on the investigation.

Sullivan believes the coach’s disciplinary status of being barred from school with pay resulted because the administrators had to abide by legal and union rules.

“The investigation continues and [the coaches] have due process rights,” Sullivan said. “Those things have to be balanced.”

Union officials did not respond to multiple calls for comment.

School officials late Friday detailed some of the things they will do in response to the allegations of hazing. The school board will hire an independent investigator in the coming weeks and a hotline will be established so students can report issues such as hazing or bullying, according to a district statement.

The statement also denies that top administrators at the district knew about an alleged 2008 hazing incident before November of this year.

A school board meeting will be held Monday, but Sullivan said “no personnel action will be taken.”

“As far am I’m concerned, every single one of the board members stands unified in the fact that we don’t tolerate bullying [and] we don’t tolerate hazing,” Sullivan said. “And these allegations, if they’re true, are reprehensible.”

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