will get a few more weeks to respond to a lawsuit filed by a former and basketball player.
Judge Ronald Guzman granted motions by Valley View and co-defendants Jim Boudouris, RHS’ athletic director, and Jeffrey Bambule, Romeoville boys basketball coach, seeking more time to respond to the lawsuit, by former student Devon Hodges.
Hodges’ complaint alleges the teen was subjected to "unfathomable abuse, harassment, and even torture" after transferring from RHS to BHS when his family moved from Romeoville to Bolingbrook. The suit also accuses Bambule and Boudouris of plotting to force the 6-foot-7 forward to return to RHS, along with badmouthing the teen and driving past his home.
In a motion filed April 11, an attorney for the district requested more time, saying while Hodges’ complaint was filed Nov. 23, the defendants were not served with the summons and complaint until March 20.
The judge agreed to extend the deadline for the district to respond or otherwise plead from April 11 to May 18.
Officials from Valley View have declined to comment on the case, saying they cannot speak about ongoing litigation.
"All hell broke loose"
Hodges’ mother, Inisicha Friend, said the teen’s troubles with the school district began when financial difficulties forced her to move out of the family’s Romeoville home and into an apartment in Bolingbrook.
Hodges, who lived with his dad in Naperville and attended during his freshman year, had returned to Romeoville to live with his mother for his sophomore year, Friend said.
“During his junior year, I fell on some financial hardship,” Friend said.
“Once I got an apartment in Bolingbrook, it seemed like all hell broke loose,” she added, saying teammates told Hodges investigators were looking into his residency.
Despite her repeated attempts to work with investigators, Friend said the situation escalated, with RHS staffers making her son the target of harassment.
Friend said she also received prank phone calls she believes came from RHS administrators.
Despite making arrangements to return to her Romeoville home thanks to a loan modification, Friend said the harassment had become too much and she did not feel comfortable sending her son back to RHS.
After a brief stint back at RHS, Friend said she allowed her home loan to default in order to move back to Bolingbrook.
“My son went through hell,” she said, claiming he suffered harassment from both students and staff.
Ultimately, Hodges finished out his senior year at Bolingbrook, but Friend said after continued problems with the district, he was eventually kicked off the BHS basketball team.
"Getting a fresh start"
Despite his struggles, Hodges received a scholarship to play basketball for the Bradley Braves in Peoria.
Friend said the lawsuit came after the district failed to resolve not one, but two complaints she filed regarding her son’s treatment.
Friend confirmed , saying the program ultimately was not a good fit.
“It’s a great school,” she said. “But every program is different, every coach has a different vision.”
Hodges’ next move will likely be to leave Illinois, his mother said. The family has moved to Joliet and no longer lives within the Valley View district boundaries, she added.
“I honestly think at this point that he’s set on leaving the state, getting a fresh start. … It really has been a struggle,” Friend said. “I’ve sat there and held my son as he cried.”
But she said Hodges’ faith has helped him through the ordeal.
“He will tell you his faith in God grants him his strength,” Friend said. “[He said], ‘God placed me here; He’ll place me somewhere else.'”
A status hearing in the case is scheduled for May 30 in U.S. District Court.
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