Coach claims she was removed for reporting sexual harassment

PALOS HILLS, Ill. (WLS) -- A high school cheerleading coach claims she is in the process of being fired after accusing the school's athletic director of sexual harassment.

But officials for Stagg High School in Palos Hills say there is another reason for the coach's pending termination.

As school let out Wednesday, Stagg students were talking about the controversy. Most seemed confused their athletic director would be accused of sexual harassment.

"All I'm really hearing is that she got fired. No one's really telling why, it's pretty much just kept between cheer," said Lily Ruiz, a junior and former cheerleader.

But that's not what cheerleading parent Michael Orloff thinks. His son is on the current cheerleading squad. Orloff said the case against Bridget Guzior -- that she sent an unprofessional text message to one of her students contrary to district policy -- is cover for an athletic director being shielded by a school administration.

"We've seen it as parents, the student athletes have seen it on the football field when the kids are cheering for the football team. This person in question who's accused of this has been out there and his actions just are despicable," Orloff said.

Guzior, 29, claims that the athletic director has on multiple occasions made inappropriate sexual remarks to her since coming on board as cheerleading coach three years ago. She said he called her "hot," and kissed her at the end of a performance evaluation, as detailed in her complaint to the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Guzior said the athletic director demeaned her and cheerleading, and was hostile to the activity as a serious athletic endeavor.

"The fact that he is still at the school right now, working, six weeks after the allegation. And she was suspended for a text message just shows no fairness in the school district," Orloff said.

Last year, Guzior led the squad to a third place finish at state. While no one from the school would appear on camera, the school released this written statement: "The School District encourages employees to report sexual harassment and takes such reports very seriously by conducting thorough investigations and taking swift action when appropriate."

In her civil complaint, Guzior said she's being fired in retaliation for raising the specter of sexual harassment.

"District 230 also believes firmly in investigating all of the facts of any complaint before reaching conclusions about the merits of the report or the guilt of the accused," District 230 said in a written statement.

One former Stagg tennis player said at all times her athletic experience inside these walls was positive.

"I feel like every high school, especially Stagg High School, they never made girls feel uncomfortable. And they also let you know the policies, dress code as well, when it came to practice, games," said Larissa Dacic, a former Stagg High School athlete.

The cheerleading coach reported to the athletic director, who ABC7 is not naming because he has not been charged with any crime. ABC7 has reached out to the athletic director for comment but has not heard back from him.

A public hearing on the matter will be held at the school on Thursday night.
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