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Spartans stand up for student in stapling incident

Aide resigns amid backlash of note stapled to child

People hold signs and rally Monday outside Boardman High School in support of a student who reportedly had a paper stapled to his hair or head last month at Boardman Center Intermediate School. The aide who was accused in the incident has since resigned. Staff photo / Ashley Fox

BOARDMAN — In the hour leading to the Boardman Board of Education meeting Monday, about 50 people rallied outside in support of a student who reportedly had a note about a water bottle stapled to his person by an aide.

By 5 p.m., about 250 cases of water were on hand, donated by district families as well as people from outside the area.

The goal, said rally organizer Tina Santucci, is that no child in the intermediate classes will need or want for a bottle of water for the rest of the school year.

The demonstration was in response to a Jan. 19 incident where an aide was accused of stapling a note to a child’s hair, as documented in a police report.

A statement released by the law firm of Agins and Gilman LLC of Lyndhurst said the note, a reminder regarding a water bottle, was stapled to the child’s head, and named Sheli Myers as his mother.

The episode is said to have occurred at Boardman Center Intermediate School; the aide did not face a criminal charge but did resign.

RESIGNED

On Friday, the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office released a statement confirming her resignation.

Following an investigation with the Boardman Police Department and medical personnel, “evidence uncovered an egregious act of stapling a note to the child’s hair,” and “the evidence does not support a criminal assault charge against the teacher’s aide,” the prosecutor’s office stated.

In response to the announcement Friday, Aimee Gilman, Myers’ attorney, released a statement disagreeing with the prosecutor.

“While we are relieved that this aide will have no further contact with children in the Boardman School District, the family remains concerned about the manner in which the District handled the situation,” Gilman stated.

Schools Superintendent Tim Saxton explained that a nearly two-hour executive session Monday was an opportunity for board members to “get a 360” view of events after hearing from the community.

“We need to make sure we learn from this,” he said.

The board Monday unanimously accepted the resignation.

‘FAILED’ HER NEPHEW

Myers was not at the rally, but her sister, Sheri Hartley, was present to represent the family.

Addressing the crowd and then board members, Hartley said the district “failed” her nephew.

Myers had complained multiple times about the aide, but the response was that the aide’s behavior was in a joking manner, Hartley said.

She also said that her nephew was in the classroom with the note attached to him, and his teacher ended up removing it.

Hartley also said that the boy was sent home and no one from the district contacted Myers about the incident.

“The obligation of this board is to oversee all aspects” of the district, Hartley said.

One question the board has repeatedly heard is why wasn’t the aide fired. Board President Vickie Davis said: The discipline that was issued was based on the circumstances and facts as we understood them at the time.”

The aide’s actions are not defended by the board, and the aide “was immediately remorseful, recognizing she had made a mistake.”

“The act of stapling a note to a student’s hair is unacceptable and inappropriate,” and doesn’t reflect Boardman, Davis said.

The aide was reassigned to a remote classroom, then placed on administrative leave, Davis said. Before further action could be taken, she resigned.

OTHER CLAIMS

Santucci said that she now would like to see Saxton resign.

She also said she’s heard of “dozens” of cases of abuse in the district.

“I’ve heard things that make the hair stand up on my arm. It’s heartbreaking” she said.

Until now, parents have not been more vocal because of reservations about retaliation, Santucci said. When asked for an example, though, she said she cannot share instances.

Boardman resident Jason Pavone also addressed board members.

Once the incident occurred, the district should have issued a community statement that could have helped the situation.

“All this chaos, all this heart-wrenching… could have been avoided if you said: ‘This is what happened,'” Pavone said. “To say this was handled poorly is a massive understatement.”

afox@tribtoday.com

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