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updated: 5/9/2013 5:16 PM

Report: Dist. 207 responded appropriately to hazing allegations

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A report from an independent investigator released Thursday regarding hazing allegations at Maine West in September 2012 concludes that Maine Township High School District 207 staff members responded appropriately to the circumstances.

According to a statement from board of education President Margaret McGrath, former Assistant U.S. State's Attorney Sergio Acosta verbally reported the investigation results to the board of education on March 20.

A written report from Acosta's law firm, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, was released Thursday, but at the board's request -- because of pending civil litigation, an ongoing criminal investigation and employee termination proceedings -- details of the investigation's factual findings and related legal conclusions were not included.

"The Board is pleased to learn that administrative employees at both the building and District office levels responded appropriately to the hazing allegations," McGrath said in the statement. "The Board is also pleased to receive Mr. Acosta's recommendations which will be carefully considered for implementation as part of the Board's commitment to eliminating practices and traditions that might lead to student hazing incidents. This commitment is essential to ensure the civility and mutual respect that is vital to a quality education and a positive and safe learning environment for all students."

Two 14-year-old freshman members of the varsity boys soccer team said in September that they were sexually assaulted inside the school as part of a hazing ritual, according to police.

In the months that followed, six juveniles were charged with misdemeanor battery and a lawsuit alleging instances of hazing dating back to 2007 was filed against the district, the school's principal and soccer coaches Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez, who have been suspended without pay.

As for recommendations, the report from Acosta's law firm stated that the board of education should consider expanding the hazing action plan beyond athletics and other extracurricular activities to include the entire school environment.

It also recommended that policy statements in documents should be updated to more thoroughly define bullying, harassment and hazing.

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