Maine West coach connected to hazing scandal formally fired

Updated 6/4/2014 5:06 AM

A former Maine West soccer coach connected to a hazing scandal has been formally fired by the Maine Township High School District 207 board.

The action comes almost a year and a half after the board voted to fire Emilio Rodriguez the first time -- a decision that Rodriguez appealed, but was upheld by an independent hearing officer in April.

The officer's 62-page report served as a recommendation to the school board, which was tasked with taking final action on whether to fire or retain Rodriguez. He was hired as a full-time teacher in 2005 and became the freshman soccer coach in 2012.

On Monday, the board voted 6-0 to dismiss Rodriguez, citing in its resolution that "remediable cause exists" for his termination based on the hearing officer's recommendation.

The hearing officer, Jules I. Crystal, wrote in his April 18 report that Rodriguez had a "deliberate indifference" to reports from some freshman soccer players that two teammates had been hazed by members of the varsity team during a campus run on Sept. 26, 2012.

Rodriguez, Crystal wrote, "knew, or should have taken steps to know, what had happened."

The school board previously fired former varsity soccer coach Michael Divincenzo in connection with the hazing scandal, but he later dropped his appeal to the dismissal in exchange for legal representation in a civil suit brought by four current and former students against the two coaches, the school district, Maine West and the school's principal.

That suit is pending in Cook County circuit court.

Divincenzo was acquitted in January by a Cook County judge on criminal charges of hazing and misdemeanor battery.

Rodriguez was never charged criminally.

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