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Peoria Unified School District fires coach who was arrested on sex crime charges

The Peoria Unified School District has fired an employee who was arrested earlier this month on sex crime charges.

Former Peoria High School basketball coach Patrick Battillo is accused of asking underaged students for inappropriate photos and videos in exchange for money.

On Thursday night, the school district’s governing board unanimously voted to approve Battillo’s dismissal. Prior to voting, board member Heather Rooks apologized to the affected families and thanked the principal for reporting it.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, community member Tiffany Benson said this is not the first time something like this has happened in the district and she wants to see change.

“It would be great if the administration came forward with a plan on resolving issues that really matter," she said. "I think I have yet to see like a legitimate student safety presentation. We need a student safety director.”

Benson was referring to the fact that another employee who had Battillo’s position before him was arrested on similar charges.

“Make it a priority to look into how your administration is hiring people in the district," Benson said. "I understand we got a lot of needs and we want to bring in employees, but whatever we’re doing, it’s making the students unsafe.”

Another teacher has been arrested for hindering prosecution; police said she warned Battillo about the impending arrest.

Battillo is facing several felony charges which include Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation and Child Sex Trafficking. 

Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.