Fenton High School in Bensenville cancels classes after threats made days after staffer fired

Maher Kawash Image
Friday, March 22, 2024
Fenton HS cancels classes after threats made against school
Fenton High School in Bensenville canceled classes after threats were made days after a staffer was fired for inappropriate conduct.

BENSENVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A west suburban high school has canceled classes and extra-curricular activities Friday, after threats were made against it and a school official, officials said Friday morning.

Students and staff were evacuated from Fenton High School in Bensenville, school officials said. Everyone is safe.

Officials initially said there would be e-learning Friday, but later said classes were canceled and extra-curricular activities were canceled until further notice.

The superintendent said the threat was unfounded later Friday.

Those who left items inside can retrieve them from noon to 3 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

The school will also be open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. during spring break.

School officials are making resources available to students who need them.

There was a significant police presence at the school later Friday.

The threats came one day after the village president of Bensenville called for resignations over how school leaders handled allegations of inappropriate conduct by a staff member at Fenton High School.

The staffer was fired earlier this week.

Village President Frank DeSimone called out the Fenton High School district superintendent and anyone else who chose not to act. DeSimone said what he's witnessed over the last few weeks was "nothing short of horrific."

DeSimone wrote a strongly-worded letter to the Board of Education, just days after the staffer was fired over allegations of inappropriate conduct.

The letter also said in part, "...the allegations are disgusting and unacceptable... A school should be - amongst all else - safe for children... In order for our community to begin to heal, I am calling for Fenton District 100's superintendent to step down... In addition, I am also calling for the Fenton School Board to investigate and remove anyone who knew of these allegations and chose to do nothing."

The village president said he attended Wednesday night's district meeting, which resulted in several fiery exchanges between the board and parents and student and staff members.

DeSimone said he wrote the letter not only as a village leader, but also as a father to a Fenton High School student.

The Fenton High School District 100 Superintendent James Ongtengco released a statement Friday evening:

"Dear Fenton School Community,
This is James Ongtengco Superintendent of Fenton I am writing to you today to share our deep concern for the well-being of the Fenton School Community. This morning, we made the decision to cancel all classes and extra-curricular activities after receiving a threat to bring harm against the school and a school official.
It is truly unfortunate that recent discussions and disagreements within our community have escalated to alarming levels.
As Superintendent, it is my utmost priority to ensure the safety and security of all of our students and staff. Threats of any kind, whether verbal or physical, have absolutely no place in our community. They not only undermine the values of respect and compassion that we strive to uphold but also create an environment of fear and anxiety.
I implore all members of our community to pause and reflect on the consequences of your words and actions. Disagreements are natural, and healthy discourse is essential for growth and progress. However, it is imperative that we engage in these conversations with civility, empathy, and mutual respect.
Let us come together as a community to reaffirm our commitment to kindness, understanding, and unity. By working together, we can overcome challenges and build a stronger, more inclusive community for all.
Thank you for your cooperation."