Fenton HS board affirms administrative leave for superintendent amid allegations against ex-staffer

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

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Saturday, March 30, 2024
Fenton HS board affirms administrative leave for superintendent
The Fenton High School board affirmed administrative leave for Superintendent James Ongtengco at a special meeting Friday in Bensenville.

BENSENVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- The Fenton High School board called a special meeting Friday, and they affirmed administrative leave for the district superintendent amid an investigation into a now-former school staff member.

The special meeting came as parents and Bensenville village leaders have repeatedly called for Superintendent James Ongtengco to resign following the investigation into a now-fired Fenton High School staffer, accused of inappropriate conduct toward students.

The weeks-long calls from parents and Bensenville community members for the superintendent to step down have now come to fruition, but there has already been pushback against his interim replacement.

My priority is to maintain a positive learning environment even through this most difficult situation
Samuel Bentsen, Interim Fenton High School District Superintendent

The Fenton High School District board voted unanimously to place now-former Superintendent Ongtengco on administrative leave, replacing him with interim Superintendent Samuel Bentsen.

"This decision required careful consideration to address the situation that has weighed heavily on our hearts and minds," Board President Cary Lewis said following the vote.

Bentsen's appointment was overshadowed by some jeers from the crowd. He is the current principal of Fenton High School, where the investigation originated into a now-former staffer who is accused of inappropriate conduct toward students for more than a decade.

"I never expected this to happen in our school, but I think everybody's doing what they can to get the truth out," senior student Amber Hayde said.

There were still many lingering questions about the investigation as the school board met.

According to the 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 Tuesday shows 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."

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

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

Board members called for healing as the case continues to be investigated by police.

"We should be here with our priorities being first for the support of every student that was victimized by this former teacher," board member Sylvia Hayde said.

Interim Supt. Bentsen talked to the crowd as the final speaker.

"My priority is to maintain a positive learning environment even through this most difficult situation," Bentsen said.

A haze of uncertainty looms over many parents and students as a new school district leader takes over.

The school board president said the district will not yet share exactly why they placed Ongtengco on administrative leave and for how long. They called it a human resources issue.

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