Fenton High School board approves independent review of former staffer's alleged sexual misconduct

Now-former Fenton High School staffer accused of inappropriate conduct dating back to 2011

ByMaher Kawash and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, April 25, 2024
Fenton board approves independent review of alleged sexual misconduct
The Fenton High School board approved a proposal for an independent review of the school's handling of a former staffer accused of sexual misconduct.

BENSENVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- The Fenton Community High School District board approved a proposal Wednesday to seek an independent firm that will review the district's actions from the controversial sexual misconduct allegations that led to a teacher's firing last month.

The board vote unanimously voted to approve the proposal agenda item. They said the decision marks an important step of transparency.

An independent firm, which will be given full access to relevant info for their investigation, will look into how Fenton High School administrators handled the allegations and discipline against the former staff member.

"This will be an unbiased evaluation of our procedures... policies and regulations," Fenton Community High School District board president Cary Lewis said.

Parents once again packed a board meeting at Fenton Community High School in Bensenville. The board decided that it will hire an independent firm to review the entire sexual misconduct investigation, but some parents said that is still is not enough.

"I don't think it's 100% transparency at all," parent Chris Mann said.

The calls for an independent review come after the school board approved administrative leave last month for Superintendent James Ongtengco after he faced calls from the community to resign over how the district handled the firing of a former school staff member accused of sexual misconduct.

Samuel Bentsen was selected to be the Interim Fenton High School District Superintendent.

Parents are still frustrated because Bentsen will be part of the hiring process for the independent firm.

"Now you have an interim superintendent that is sitting there that knew everything was going on... nothing was done... everything was swept under the rug," Mann said.

Josh Dakins has a daughter who recently graduated from the school, and the process now has him considering different options for his two younger children heading to high school soon.

"When I define transparency... it doesn't include smoke and mirrors... and delay, delay, delay on action that needs to be taken," Dakins said. "I just don't trust the process they're going through right now is really what they're saying it's going to be... so I'd rather have my daughter and son who are coming up here... at a place I know they're going to be safe."

The school board will now look at potential candidates over the next month, with plans to approve the hiring of a firm at a board meeting on May 22.

There are still many lingering questions about the investigation.

According to the school district superintendent's timeline of the cases, the school investigated at least nine accusations against the former staff member dating back to December of 2011.

Documents provided to ABC7 by a school administrator showed the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was contacted about a complaint made against the staffer in December 2016, and that the agency had determined the allegations to be unfounded.

However, not only does DCFS deny being contacted about the staffer until March of last year, but a spokesperson told ABC7 in a statement, "The document in question was created by the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) of DuPage County with no involvement from DCFS. Had DCFS been involved in this investigation, Fenton HS would have been provided a notice from DCFS with our findings and that notice would also exist in the DCFS records system. That is not the case here."

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Authorities at the CAC of DuPage County said they did investigate the allegations in 2016 and determined them to be unfounded.

Currently no charges have been filed against the former staffer under investigation.