The Times
  • Report: LaFountain involved in 2 incidents with students

  • Former Mount Markham Elementary School Principal James LaFountain has a problem with his “temper” and “frustration threshold,” according to a state report.

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  • Former Mount Markham Elementary School Principal James LaFountain has a problem with his “temper” and “frustration threshold,” according to a state report.
    LaFountain was fired Tuesday after the decision of a state Education Department hearing officer regarding two separate incidents where he “grabbed” and “dragged” students and provided “false” details to the superintendent surrounding one of the incidents, according to the hearing officer’s report.
    The district board of education unanimously approved the state’s decision at a board meeting Tuesday, officially terminating the tenured administrator after more than a year of court and hearings — a decision the former principal plans to appeal.
    “I’m angered by this,” LaFountain said. “They want to smear the whole thing. That’s really frustrating because I gave eight years of my life.”
    LaFountain said he couldn’t say much until after the outcome of the appeal to the state Supreme Court.
    The district is moving on and is hoping to have a new elementary school principal in place by fall.
    “From the outset, the board felt that we needed to protect our students safety,” said school board President Ronald Loiacono. “We wish the process was quicker. We were pleased to hear that (the hearing officer) concurred in believing (LaFountain) was wrong in his actions.”
    The report provided further details on the incidents, with both parties laying out their positions.
    The hearing officer found that on May 24, 2011, LaFountain apparently dislocated his knuckle after a student fist bumped him. LaFountain grabbed the student by his ankle and dragged him until he reached the office area, the report said.
    The report also found that on Jan. 18, 2012, LaFountain physically dragged a student into the school, who was “clearly no threat to him or anyone else in the hallway.”
    LaFountain has been on paid leave following the January incident.
    A portion of this incident had been caught on camera and is described in the report.
    The case was brought to criminal court. Charges were dropped following an investigation by the Herkimer County District Attorney’s Office.
    LaFountain said he was denied training to properly restrain the students, but the report said LaFountain had the training necessary for his position.
    The hearing officer concluded: “He is not suitable to remain in his position as an elementary school principal in the district.”
    LaFountain said he does not have anger issues.
    “There was never anything in my file about a temper.”