Fenton superintendent reveals former employee's alleged misconduct dates back to 2011

BENSENVILLE, Ill. - The Fenton High School superintendent released a timeline of misconduct reports against a former employee that date back to 2011.

A staff member at Fenton High School was terminated Monday night after being put on administrative leave late last year.

The employee was accused of having inappropriate relationships with students. The school board held a public meeting on Wednesday night to address the ongoing criminal investigation.

Parents and students at the meeting called for District 100 Superintendent James Ongtengco, along with the entire school board, to resign.

The allegations against the former teacher only surfaced recently, but they date back several years.

On Saturday, Ongtengco emailed the Fenton School Community. He acknowledged the community's anger and concern and released a timeline of dates and actions the school board took to address and investigate anonymous tips reported to the administration.

The complete timeline provided by Ongtengco is provided below:

  • December 16, 2011 – Teacher reported to administration that the staff member in question was sending inappropriate text messages to a student in their class. Administration investigation included interviews with the student and the student's family. The staff member in question was issued a disciplinary letter.

  • May 22, 2012 – Teacher overheard a conversation among students and reported to administration potential inappropriate communication between students and the staff member in question via social media. Administration interviewed students and their parents. The staff member in question was issued a second disciplinary letter and mandated to attend personal conduct training.

  • December 1, 2016 – Anonymous tip was sent to administration via the school website regarding the staff member in question alleging the individual was engaged in a sexual relationship with a student. Administration referred this incident to the School Resource Officer, Department of Child Family Services (DCFS), and the DuPage Children’s Center. The incident was thoroughly investigated and the allegations were determined to be unfounded by all agencies involved. All parties involved denied the information provided in the anonymous tip.

  • March 8, 2023 – Anonymous tip was sent to administration via the school website regarding the staff member in question alleging the individual engaged in a sexual relationship with the previously reported former students from 2011 and 2016. Administration referred this incident to the School Resource Officer (SRO) and DCFS. The SRO spoke with the former students and they both stated that no inappropriate conduct occurred. All parties involved denied the information provided in the anonymous tip.

  • May 19, 2023 – Anonymous tip was sent to administration via the school website regarding the staff member in question alleging the individual engaged in a sexual relationship with the same two former students first reported on March 8, 2023. Administration referred this incident to the School Resource Officer and DCFS.

  • August 19, 2023 – Anonymous tip was sent to administration via the school website regarding the staff member in question alleging the individual engaged in a sexual relationship with the same two former students that were previously reported. Administration referred this incident to the School Resource Officer and DCFS. Administration received a letter from the DuPage Children’s Center stating that this incident had already been investigated and was determined to be unfounded in 2016. The SRO spoke with the former students and the students stated that no inappropriate conduct occurred.

  • September 23, 2023 – A teacher was called by one of the former students that was previously reported anonymously and stated that she was a victim of sexual abuse by the staff member in question when she was attending Fenton Community High School. As a mandated reporter, the teacher provided this information to school administration. The teacher and administrator went to the Bensenville Police Department to provide a detailed report of what was stated by the former student. The District immediately placed the staff member in question on administrative leave, which included revoking the individual’s ability to access school grounds, email, and other technology.

  • October 3, 2023 – Former student filed a report with the Bensenville Police Department.

Fenton High School public meeting - Wednesday, March 20

On Wednesday evening, silence filled the school library when a victim of the accused came forward publicly – stunning the board and the community.

The 2022 Fenton graduate's emotional speech closed out a fiery public comment session, which the board limited to 30 minutes. Community members grilled school officials – demanding to know just how much they knew and why the allegations only recently came to light.

"You failed to support me and other young girls who were assaulted and groomed by a monster that you protected, empowered, and promoted as a community hero," said Xochitl Quinones, former student. "He had a pattern of victims and none of you seem to care."

Current students who addressed the board Wednesday said they are traumatized, sharing that they haven’t felt safe in the halls of the school.

A spokesperson with the Bensenville Police Department says they were made aware of an alleged crime last October. It apparently occurred at Fenton High School at least seven years prior. Detectives have been investigating ever since.

Meanwhile, community members now claim school officials have been hiding the allegations and covering up for the former staffer. Parents also allege that the sexual misconduct dates back further than seven years.

"It is fair to ask our leaders to be accountable and explain to us why you did what you did, because it is now hurting us," said Patrick Escobedo, president, Fenton Education Association.

The accused employee was placed on administrative leave late last year. FOX 32 Chicago is not yet naming him, as no criminal charges have been filed.

"Our hope to see right now is a clean slate. We need action, we need everything to be changed, we need to start over, we need a fresh board, we need a fresh superintendent, we need a fresh principal," said Julia Styrczula, parent.

On Thursday, Bensenville Village President Frank DeSimone urged Ongtengco to resign.

DeSimone, who also has a daughter attending Fenton High School, expressed his dismay in a statement, saying, "What I have witnessed at Fenton these past few weeks is nothing short of horrific, and like so many in our community, I'm outraged at the allegations against a former teacher. And while his dismissal is a small step forward, it is not enough."

In the Saturday morning email, Ongtengco said he was confident that the community could overcome these challenges and hopes to build a more "inclusive and supportive" community for all.