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Dist. 230 Board postpones dismissal decision on cheerleading coach

Dist. 230

Stagg High School cheerleaders and families came to the School District 230 school board last Thursday to show support for suspended cheerleading coach Bridget Guzior, who was threatened with dismissal. They filed out quietly after Supt. Dr. James Gay said the board was postponing consideration of her case in light of new information.

Photo by Dermot Connolly

       

      The tension in the room before the start of the District 230 School Board meeting last Thursday quickly dissipated when Superintendent Dr. James Gay announced that the board was postponing a decision on the recommended dismissal of a Stagg High School cheerleading coach, who is under suspension for texting a student.

       The coach has filed a sexual harassment complaint against the school’s athletic director, a matter the superintendent said is being handled separately.

          Bridget Guzior, 29, of Orland Park, has been the head cheerleading coach at Stagg High School in Palos Hills since 2013, but was suspended without pay on Aug. 30, because of a text message sent to a student. Since then, she has filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights alleging that she was the victim of sexual harassment from Stagg Athletic Director Terry Treasure.

          About a dozen Stagg cheerleaders, many wearing their distinctive uniform hair ribbons, had filed into the meeting room at Andrew High School in Tinley Park. They stood quietly in the back of the room with some parents, one of whom was scheduled to speak at the meeting. But they all filed out without comment soon after the postponement was announced.

In a statement read at the meeting, Gay said that “District 230 has decided to amend the agenda for tonight’s meeting to postpone action related to the administration’s recommendation to dismiss Bridget Guzior from employment as the Stagg High School cheerleading coach. The School Board wants to assure it takes into consideration additional information that has come forward prior to taking action.”

         “Ms. Guzior’s recommended dismissal is completely unrelated to her recently reported allegations of harassment by the Stagg athletic director. These allegations are under separate investigation by district legal counsel and will be handled consistent with District policies which prohibit sexual harassment of employees and students,” the statement concluded.

The superintendent said after the meeting that he couldn’t comment further when asked whether the “additional information” included anything other than the sexual harassment complaint.


         
According to reports, the text addressed to the male student stated “No matter how much we make each other want to bash our heads into a wall (most times a brick wall) I am so proud of the young adult you have become! Looking forward to an awesome year! Drama free curse is over the bitch is gone!”

District officials reportedly had previously warned Guzior not to text students privately. But her attorney, Tom Skallas, said in a statement issued on her behalf that the student’s mother is supportive of the coach, and was included in the original text message.

          Guzior was hired in 2012 and became the head cheerleading coach in 2013. In her complaint filed in September with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, she claimed that since Treasure became athletic director in 2014, “there have been many times where I have felt uncomfortable because of inappropriate sexual harassment as my superior, including comments and gestures.”

          She goes on to cite several “inappropriate encounters,” in which he allegedly made suggestive comments about her being “hot” and “in shape,” hugged her “aggressively,” pressing her body into his, or kissed her on the head.

         Skallas also said in his statement that Guzior has been unfairly criticized for the timing of the complaint, submitted after the suspension.

          “Any attempt to discredit the statements made in her complaint are simply age-old victim-blaming that the targets of harassment know all too well,” he said.

“Coach Guzior has suffered emotionally and physically over the last six weeks, more recently being hospitalized for health issues caused by this ordeal. We respectfully ask that her privacy be respected so that she can fully heal from her health issues,” Skallas stated.

He added that Guzior is “eternally grateful” for the support she has received from students and parents.

No time frame for the dismissal decision following last Thursday’s postponement has been made public, but the Dist. 230 School Board meets again on Nov. 30 at Sandburg High School in Orland Park.

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