Despite having a group of enthusiastic supporters in the audience, former NBA player and Proviso East alumnus Donnie Boyce was not rehired by the Proviso Township District 209 school board to coach basketball at Proviso East High School at the board’s Nov. 10 meeting.
The meeting was attended by around 100 people, who began to heckle the board as the night wore on.
Board President Theresa Kelly predicted the 4 to 3 vote against former Pirate state-champion Boyce in an interview with the Review the week before. Voting to rehire Boyce were Kelly and board members Claudia Medina and Ned Wagner. Voting against rehiring Boyce were board Vice President Kevin McDermott and board members Brian Cross, Dan Adams and Theresa McKelvey.
Boyce was fired from Proviso in February after a student phone video appeared on the Internet in December 2014, which showed Boyce allegedly choking a student while working as a school security guard.
The school board voted 5 to 1 with one abstention to terminate Boyce. Kelly was the only board member who voted not to fire Boyce in February.
But on Nov. 10, supporters ranging from local ministers to mothers begged the board to give Boyce a second chance.
A woman who identified herself as a parent of a basketball player praised Boyce.
“Donnie is an excellent coach and we have to look at the bigger picture,” she said. “He has opened doors for our students and sent them to college. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Minister Edward Howard praised Boyce for returning to his roots in Maywood to be a mentor to students of his alma mater.
“Donnie has come back to give back; he has not come back for a paycheck,” Howard said. “We need fellows to get out of here on scholarships.”
Forest Parkers Patrick and Joyce Oberg told the board that Boyce “loved the kids.”
“If you don’t let [Boyce] come back, you’re doing a total disservice to the students,” Oberg said.
Board members Medina and Wagner, both Forest Park residents, begged the board to rehire Boyce.
“Donnie Boyce gives this community pride,” said Medina.
The board voted to hire Cedric McCullough as head boys basketball coach at Proviso East. McCullough served as an assistant coach under Boyce and stepped up to lead the team after Boyce was suspended.