Donnie Boyce, the former Proviso East High School boys basketball coach and member of the school’s security staff, will get his jobs back after being terminated by the District 209 Board of Education a year ago.
According to school board President Theresa Kelly, Boyce will also receive wages for the time he was unemployed by the district. Boyce was fired in February 2015 after video footage surfaced that allegedly showed him choking a female student during a December 2014 incident at the school.
The incident was investigated by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Child and Family Services. No charges were ever filed against Boyce.
Kelly said the school board discussed Boyce’s return during closed session at the board’s regular meeting Feb. 9, but could not comment further about their discussion. She said that Boyce’s return to Proviso East ultimately wasn’t a board decision, but she was pleased he would come back.
An independent arbitrator was brought in to investigate Boyce’s termination, Kelly said. The arbitrator sided with Boyce. As a result, the district will rehire him.
“The board didn’t give Donnie Boyce his job back, the arbitrator did,” Kelly said.
Despite a request by the Forest Park Review, District 209 has not shared documents related to the arbitrator’s findings.
Boyce reapplied for the job at the urging of Kelly, who was a board member at the time he was fired and voted against his termination. According to Kelly, Boyce never choked the student. He was breaking up a fight between students at the school when the incident occurred, she said.
“I feel like justice finally prevailed in Donnie Boyce’s case,” Kelly said. “I’m delighted by the result.”
Kelly said the next step will be for the district’s administration to reach out to Boyce and set a date for him to return to his former positions.
Despite multiple requests for comment, District 209 spokesman Rob Daniel declined to confirm Boyce’s return, provide information about the arbitration agreement or issue a statement on behalf of the district.
Daniel said he would not answer questions about when Boyce might return to his position or what the process would be.
Boyce could not be reached for comment regarding his pending return to Proviso East, but in November after he reapplied for the jobs, Boyce told the Forest Park Review that
“I have a passion for the high school and for the kids in the program. … I want to show [students] it’s important to fight all the way to the end.”