Huntley School District 158 issued a statement in light of a petition calling for the reinstatement of Huntley High School security guard and football coach John Woo.
According to the district, the incident was witnessed by multiple staff members and it was filmed by security cameras.
“The district is aware of petitions and other efforts in support of the continued employment of Mr. Chong [John] Woo, who voluntarily resigned his positions as security aide and assistant football and track coach at Huntley High School effective February 25, 2020,” the district said in the statement. “We regret that the circumstances regarding Mr. Woo’s decision to resign have become a matter of public speculation and discord.”
Woo is cited with an ordinance violation of battery/cause bodily harm, a petty offense, and has a plea hearing set for 1:30 p.m. March 23 at the McHenry County courthouse related to the incident.
“The defendant knowingly made physical contact of an insulting nature with [juvenile] and he grabbed [juvenile’s] sweatshirt and pushed him out of a room,” according to the case file.
The district’s statement goes on to say that the district always aims to listen and respond to community feedback.
In an online petition, Huntley High School students claimed that Woo was fired for preventing a fight between two students and stopping two students from getting hurt.
“Students are upset that Coach Woo is no longer walking the school halls and bonding with students,” according to the petition. “He was the reason many of us felt comfortable in school and we would seek him for comfort and problems of our own. So we need to get Woo his job back because this should be no reason for a man to lose his job.”
As of Monday morning, the petition, which is seeking 2,500 signatures, had garnered 1,992.
The students went on to say in the petition that Woo was a security guard who made the halls of Huntley High School “a little safer,” and that he made students feel comfortable and was a great football and track and field coach.
According to a separate online petition seeking 5,000 signatures, Woo was wrongfully accused of assault over the alleged incident.
In its statement, the district said that because of laws governing personnel, student and law enforcement matters, there often is little substantive information that can be shared publicly about the specifics regarding sensitive situations.
“As a result, there is often an inherent gap between what information is publicly available and the facts,” according to the district. “Unfortunately, this resulting void is commonly filled with partial information, misinformation, or rumor. While we are legally barred from sharing substantive details about the student-involved incident that preceded Mr. Woo’s resignation, we can share that the incident was witnessed firsthand by multiple administrators and a law enforcement officer. In addition, the incident was captured on the school’s security cameras.”
District 158 said it is “troubled” by the tenor of some conversations that have occurred online regarding this matter.
“While emotions understandably run high in certain situations, we ask individuals engaged in conversations about this matter to refrain from assigning blame, assuming negative intent in others, and engaging in rumors,” according to the statement.
According to the district, it will not issue anymore statements “unless we become aware of new factual information concerning this matter.”
• Senior reporter Katie Smith contributed to this report