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The Times
  • Mount Markham school district fires LaFountain


  • Jim LaFountain has been fired as principal of Mount Markham Elementary School.

    Marc Reigt, the attorney for the Mount Markham Central School District, said an arbiter from the state Department of Education made the ruling earlier this week.


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  • Jim LaFountain has been fired as principal of Mount Markham Elementary School.
    Marc Reigt, the attorney for the Mount Markham Central School District, said an arbiter from the state Department of Education made the ruling earlier this week.
    “We are required to implement his decision and the board did so tonight (Tuesday) to terminate Mr. LaFountain,” Reight said.
    LaFountain said Tuesday he was informed of the decision Monday by his attorney.
    He said he plans to appeal the decision and would like to return to his job.
    “It’s really heartbreaking to think I might not go back there,” he said.
    LaFountain’s public troubles began after a Jan. 18, 2012, incident at the school in which LaFountain was accused of grabbing a “disruptive” student by the collar of his jacket and “guiding” him to a counselor’s office when the third-grade boy refused to walk.
    LaFountain was placed on administrative leave after the incident and was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. The case was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal and the charges were later dropped.
    But in a statement released Tuesday, the school board said that was actually the second incident in which LaFountain was accused of using inappropriate physical force when dealing with a student, and that the first resulted in a “strong warning” from the superintendent.
    “As a result of these incidents, the school district believed that it had an obligation to initiate the disciplinary charges in order to protect the safety of our students, the integrity of our staff and to determine Mr. LaFountain’s fitness to continue to serve in that position ...,” the statement said. “While it is unfortunate that the school district could not discuss the underlying allegations during the course of the hearing process, we believe that the hearing officer’s decision demonstrates that the school district had valid concerns with respect to Mr. LaFountain’s conduct, and an obligation to address those concerns in accordance with applicable provisions of law.”
    LaFountain remained on leave throughout the hearing process, which is required to fire a tenured administrator.
    In the meantime, the district had been paying LaFountain’s nearly $82,000 salary, including benefits, and also is paying an interim elementary principal, Martin Cross, about $300 per day, according to district officials.

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