Coach suspended for alleged hazing

Dec. 20, 2012 at 3:27 PM
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DES PLAINES, Ill., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A coach at a suburban Chicago high school has been suspended without pay for failing to end hazing on athletic teams, officials said.

Michael Divincenzo, a physical education teacher at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, former freshman baseball coach and current head boys and girls varsity soccer coach, was suspended without pay Wednesday night after a 3-hour meeting with Maine Township High School District 207, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"The board believes Mr. Divincenzo violated District 207 Board of Education policy and professional expectations by failing to adequately prevent, recognize, report and punish student hazing," school board President Sean Sullivan said in a statement.

The board is now pursuing Divincenzo's dismissal, officials said.

Divincenzo and freshman boys and girls soccer coach Emilio Rodriguez were both initially put on paid leave as authorities investigated allegations of hazing on the school's soccer and baseball teams.

At the meeting Wednesday, more than 60 people, including many former students and athletes, showed up to speak on behalf of the coaches.

"These two individuals that we're talking about today, they meant a lot to each and every one of us that's in this room today," said Alex Esquivel, a 2009 Maine West graduate and former soccer player. "[Divincenzo] always stressed nothing but respect on and off the field. As a whole, I think he strived to make each and every one of us better men."

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