Donnie Boyce has reapplied for the position of Proviso East High School men’s varsity basketball coach. The Proviso East graduate and former NBA and college player, who starred at Proviso East, winning a state title in 1991, was fired from the district in February after a student cellphone video appeared to show Boyce, in his role as campus security guard, choking a female student.

“I have a passion for the high school and for the kids in the program,” Boyce said Tuesday. “We’re just scratching the surface with the program. I want to show [students] it’s important to fight all the way to the end.”

Theresa Kelly was the only board member to vote against Boyce’s dismissal last February. Now that Kelly is board president, she encouraged Boyce to reapply for the job.

“I feel Donnie is deserving of a second chance [as a coach],” Kelly said. “He has sent kids to colleges with scholarships and brought our team to state championships. He inspires children to be their best.” Kelly said she would support rehiring Boyce as a coach only.

Kelly said the Boyce incident, which took place in December 2014, had been investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and no criminal charges were filed.

The item will be on the Tuesday, Nov. 10 school board agenda, but Kelly predicted board members would not be in agreement to re-hire Boyce.

“There are four people on the board who are opposed to Donnie coming back,” she said. Basketball tryouts start in early November.

Under Boyce’s coaching, the Proviso men’s team went to the state finals in 2011-2012 and the state semi-finals in 2012-2013. Both times, the Pirates were beaten by Chicago’s Simeon High School.

In February, around 100 supporters came to the D209 board meeting at Proviso Math and Science Academy to show support for Boyce, including his Pirate teammate Michael Finley. Finley, Boyce and Sherrell Ford were known as the “Three Amigos” when they helped the Pirates win the state championship in 1991.

Looking back on the altercation that lost him his job with the district, Boyce said he was trying to break up a fight between two girls, one of whom was pregnant.

“I did nothing wrong,” Boyce said. “I was trying to defuse the situation.”

He said he responded to the student’s actions when she struck him — an account Kelly confirmed.

“People didn’t see the whole video,” said Kelly, who has called for more training for campus security guards, specifically for a non-violent protocol for restraining students. The district hired the Conflict Prevention Institute (CPI) of Milwaukee to train campus security personnel this summer.

Boyce said he was following protocol when he restrained the student. He acknowledged, “Everyone can use more training, but training doesn’t always prepare you for [an event].”

Boyce said he was concerned that “political” forces in Proviso did not want him back coaching the men’s team.

“Politics in Maywood sometimes can be real dirty,” he said.

Boyce said he has “other coaching opportunities” but hoped the board would allow him a “path to redemption” at Proviso East.

Even if he does not get his old job back, Boyce said his reputation is still untarnished.

“I can walk away with my head held high,” Boyce said. “I am proud of my body of work.

“Whatever happens, I’ll always be a Pirate at heart.”

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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