November 15, 2013

Willsboro Central parents hold protest

WILLSBORO — A small group of Willsboro Central School parents and grandparents gathered near the school Thursday morning in protest.

Ten people stood across the street from Willsboro Central’s main entrance, holding signs expressing disapproval with the School Board.

Those parents claim board members retained first-grade teacher Natalie Foster despite allegations that she used inappropriate language with students.

Group members said a recording device had been planted in a student’s backpack and had captured Foster telling kids to “shut up.”

They also alleged she had withheld lunch from a 5-year-old as a disciplinary measure and had picked on a student with a hearing disability.

Willsboro Central Superintendent Stephen Broadwell confirmed that one of the school’s teachers had been on administrative leave during this academic year pending an investigation.

“The board concluded the investigation at (Tuesday) night’s meeting, and there are currently no teachers on administrative leave,” he said.

Broadwell said he could not provide further details of the situation, including whether the teacher who had been placed on leave was still employed by the district.

At the protest in support of Foster was Andy MacDougal, who has a stepson in her class.

“My stepson contradicts these allegations,” MacDougal said. “They (the parents) didn’t talk to the teacher about these things.”

He added that he has spoken with other teachers who have worked with Foster’s students, and those educators indicated the children were well ahead of where they were supposed to be academically.

“Natalie Foster is a good person and an excellent teacher,” MacDougal said.

Martha Lacey, who served as a teacher’s aide in Foster’s classroom before retiring, told the Press-Republican it was a pleasure to work with the educator.

“She was firm but fair with her students, and they listened to her rules and learned her routine,” Lacey said.

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