We’ve seen some screwy things over the years at our Proviso high schools. But the firing and now the seeming rehiring of Donnie Boyce as the basketball coach and a security guard is right up there.
This is a district famous for its bizarre treatment of top officials. Administrators get hired, fired, recycled, laterally moved, retired, honored and humiliated — sometimes in the space of just a year or so. In those cases, in the past we always assumed political machinations and/or nepotism were at the root.
But the Boyce case feels different. It just feels odd and amateurish.
The man has a following going back to his glory days as a player on Proviso East’s basketball team. He has a presence and a charisma as a coach that is valuable for a team where role models are hard to find. He seemed like a person a refocused school board could build on.
But then there were the allegations and the video allegedly showing that in his security staff role that he took a female student by the throat as he tried to break up a fight at the school.
He was bounced quickly and the lesson we were told was learned is that the poorly paid security staff needed a lot of training on how to intervene — and how not to intervene — in student fights. We agreed with that and, sadly agreed that Boyce had to go.
However, Boyce was never charged with a crime and, unknown to the public, some sort of arbitration process had been underway. That process concluded that Boyce should regain his job and the back pay lost since his dismissal.
At least that is what District 209 school board President Theresa Kelly is telling the Review along with the quote, “I feel like justice finally prevailed in Donnie Boyce’s case.”
For its part, the district administration is totally closed mouthed. They neither confirm nor deny an arbitrator ruling, a rehiring date, the back pay. They just won’t say anything.
Strange and disconcerting on both sides.
Donnie Boyce as basketball coach is a fine thing. If actual headway is being made in professionalizing the security staff by training them in de-escalation techniques that is all good.
But on the how-to-make-a-decision front, this school district still needs help.
To its credit
By now the two finalists for superintendent of the Proviso high schools will have come through town and met with staff, parents and students as the board comes down to its final choice.
We are strongly in favor of such transparency in a superintendent selection process. And District 209’s board gets considerable credit for choosing this open path. Most school districts make noise about transparency and then offer up gobbledy-gook on why it just can’t work in a superintendent search.
So, D209 board, congratulations on this front, and hide the previous editorial from the finalists until one of them is under contract.