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updated: 1/5/2013 4:04 PM

Maine West coach appeals firing decision

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A Maine West High School soccer coach fired last month following a hazing scandal at the school has appealed the school board's decision.

The Maine Township High School District 207 school board voted Dec. 19 to dismiss head boys varsity soccer coach Michael Divincenzo. In a statement, the school board said, "Divincenzo violated District 207 Board of Education policy and professional expectations by failing to adequately prevent, recognize, report and punish student hazing."

A lawyer for Michael Divincenzo said he sent a letter to the Illinois State Board of Education requesting an administrative hearing on the matter.

District 207 director of communications David Beery said he expected to receive a copy of the letter soon.

"We understand that a copy of the request for hearing is in the mail," he said.

Two 14-year-old freshman members of the varsity boys soccer team claim they were sexually assaulted inside the school on Sept. 26 as part of a hazing ritual, according to police. Five juveniles were subsequently charged with misdemeanor battery, and a sixth juvenile was charged after police uncovered evidence of another attack that they say occurred during a summer soccer camp.

In the wake of the scandal, Divincenzo and freshman soccer coach Emilio Rodriguez were banned from school premises and relieved of coaching duties.

Rodriguez, a teacher in the applied arts and technology department, continues to turn in lesson plans as he is reassigned with pay, Beery said.

Divincenzo's appeal process could take up to a year to be completed.

A representative of the Illinois State Board of Education couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

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