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Parents of Peoria students coached by ‘Mr. ORNG’ demand answers



During a meeting with Peoria Superintendent Dr. K.C. Somers, parents expressed concerns about what they called the district’s lack of response.

PEORIA, Ariz. — Concerned parents from the Peoria High School boys’ basketball team met with Peoria Unified School leaders Thursday to address their concerns after the recent arrest of head coach Patrick Battillo, also known as Mr. ORNG.

Peoria Police arrested Battillo in April on charges of child sex crimes.

A second Peoria High teacher, Holly Holgate, was also arrested for interfering in the investigation.

RELATED: ‘Mr. ORNG’ indicted, fired from Peoria school for allegedly trying to pay for inappropriate photos of minors

“We need for them to clean house,” said Janelle Wood, president and CEO of the Black Mother’s Forum — an organization representing the parents of players.

During a meeting with Peoria Superintendent Dr. K.C. Somers, Wood said she expressed concerns about what she called the district’s lack of response to reach out to the parents of players impacted by Battillo’s arrest.

“He had access way too much freedom with our children, and many of the parents didn’t know about it,” said Wood.

Wood said some of the students have not returned to school, and that Peoria High School voluntarily withdrew them from class. She said the district has provided limited resources to help students get through their studies for the rest of the year.

“Right now, we don’t feel that Peoria High School, has the best interests of our students at heart right now,” said Wood.

She’s calling on the district to suspend the boys’ basketball program until a new set of coaches can be put into place.

She’s also calling for the district to install new leadership on the campus.

“We do not trust their leadership. We do not trust their guidance and we do not trust their decision-making skills,” said Wood.

The Peoria Unified School Governing Board unanimously fired Battillo last month.

Holgate was placed on administrative leave.

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Battillo’s firing came the same day a Maricopa County jury found his predecessor, William Roberts not guilty of sexual misconduct in a separate incident allegedly involving students, that led to him resigning in 2019.

Since Battillo’s arrest, and the end of Roberts’ trial, Wood said current and former students have reached out to her with concerns about issues at the school.

She’s concerned about the potential of even more victims inside the school.

“We don’t know who deep this goes, but we know it goes deeper than what we are seeing. We’re just at the surface of this,” she said.

Woods said Somers did agree to meet with the parents of the players, but a specific timeline was not given for when that would happen.

12News reached out to Peoria Unified Schools for comment regarding the details of the meeting, and the issues raised by parents.

As of Thursday evening, the district has not responded back to our request.

Battillo pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently out on bond.

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