A student wears a t-shirt in support of former Proviso East men’s basketball coach Donnie Boyce during a demonstration last year. Boyce, who was fired last year for an incident involving a student in his role as a security guard at the school, has recently been cleared of wrongdoing through union arbitration and will likely get his old positions back. | File
Wednesday, February 3, 2016 || By Nicholas Samuel || Updated: 5:25 PM
A union arbitration process has cleared Donnie Boyce, the popular former varsity boys basketball coach and security guard at Proviso East High School, of any wrongdoing in connection to a December 2014 incident involving a physical altercation between Boyce and a female student.
School district authorities say the development will likely clear the way for Boyce to get his old jobs back.
Cell phone footage released two years ago shows Boyce allegedly choking a female student while trying to break up a fight at Proviso East.
The Proviso Township High School District 209 Board of Education fired Boyce last February and voted against rehiring Boyce as a basketball coach last November after he reapplied for the position.
The arbitration, which entailed a third-party probe into the incident, was launched last August and only recently concluded.
On Feb. 2, D209 board member Claudia Medina announced in a Facebook post that Boyce would be “reinstated into Proviso” and that arbitration “found him innocent,” although she didn’t go into specifics regarding the reinstatement.
In a recent interview after Medina’s announcement, D209 Board President Theresa Kelly said that she had been told by district administration officials that Boyce would be reinstated to both his head coaching position and his position as a security guard at the high school. District officials have not yet responded to requests for comment.
Kelly, who along with Medina and board member Ned Wagner voted for Boyce to be rehired, originally voted against the decision to fire Boyce and said she never felt Boyce was guilty, especially after she viewed the full footage of the incident and listened to Boyce describe what happened in detail.
Kelly said the full video didn’t show that Boyce was trying to put pressure on the student’s throat.
“He was trying to push her back so she wouldn’t get to the other student. He’s not that type of person to try and hurt someone.” Kelly said. “I’m happy for his victory. These young men in Proviso Township trust in him and need him; he’s a mentor to a lot of the kids.”
The Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident shortly after it happened and found no wrongdoing, Kelly said.
Kelly said she feels the decision to arbitrators’ ruling could’ve come much sooner.
“It took them this long to get him this decision. The guy could’ve been coaching,” Kelly said.
Boyce, Michael Finley and Sherrell Ford, best known as the “Three Amigos,” helped lead Proviso East basketball team to a state championship in 1991.
As a coach, Boyce led the boys varsity team to the state finals in 2011-12 and the state semifinals in 2012-13.
Claude Brown Sr., equipment manager for the Proviso East sports department, said Boyce brings dreams for the young boys in Proviso Township that they probably wouldn’t envision without him.
“Just to see them motivated; it’s huge. Boyce is one of the biggest things that has happened to Proviso,” Brown said. “It’s not just about the sport, it’s about growing our boys into young men. We don’t have many mentors to help with our young black men.”
Efforts to contact Boyce for comment were unsuccessful. VFP
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, Claudia Medina’s Facebook post was dated Jan. 2, instead of Feb. 2. This post has since been updated. VFP regrets this error.
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