Fenton superintendent put on administrative leave

Fenton High School District 100 Superintendent James Ongtengco was put on administrative leave Friday night amid controversy over how he and the district handled allegations against a staff member accused of sexual misconduct.

The school board voted unanimously to “affirm” the leave in a special board meeting. It did not explain why he was being put on leave. It did not give any details as to the length of the leave.

After the meeting, board member Kent Kovac said that he, as a designee of the board, put Ongtengco on leave Tuesday night. He received approval individually from board members. He also said the leave is paid, per the terms of the superintendent’s contract.

The board then appointed Fenton High School Principal Thomas Bentsen as interim superintendent — a move the crowd of several hundred people booed.

At the end of the meeting, board member John Radzinski apologized to attendees, but said the board was constrained in what it could do and say by policies and legal processes, including being told by its attorney and Bensenville police not to say anything about the investigation.

During public comment after the vote, several speakers said Bentsen knew about the allegations and promoted the teacher.

The first speaker, Christopher McCullough, questioned why the board didn’t take public comment until after the vote, unlike its normal practice of hearing comments at the beginning of meetings. McCullough also said it appeared the board made its decision before the meeting and added he suspected they violated the Open Meetings Act.

Ongtengco became principal of the high school in 2015 and became superintendent in 2017.

In December 2016, the district received an anonymous complaint alleging that the employee had sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl.

According to the district, Ongtengco reported the allegation to a Wood Dale police officer stationed at the school as a resource officer. Police and DuPage County state’s attorney’s investigators interviewed the girl and her parents, and the girl denied it, according to a statement from the district and a copy of a Bensenville police report people have posted online.

The statement also said that the employee was disciplined in 2011 and 2012 for having inappropriate communications with students via text messaging and a social media app.

Fenton releases timeline of investigations into sexual misconduct allegations

Outraged Fenton High community calls for superintendent to be fired

Last year, more complaints were received, and police reinvestigated.

Police say the results have been forwarded to the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. The state’s attorney’s office says police are still investigating.

On March 18, the school board fired the employee. He still has time to appeal the dismissal.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.