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December 4, 2012

State: WCS case was reported

By JOE MAHONEY
The Daily Star

---- — The Walton Central School District provided the state Department of Education with details about allegations that a teacher had sexual relations with two of her underaged male students prior to her arrest by state police on felony charges, an official said Monday.

“The district informed the department appropriately,” said Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the Department of Education in Albany.

Dunn’s comment came in response to an inquiry by The Daily Star into whether Walton administrators contacted the state agency about the allegations involving former high school biology teacher Stephanie Fletcher, or whether the agency initiated the contact with the school district.

Dunn said he did not have immediate access to records showing the precise date of when the school district reached out to the state agency. But he noted: “We heard from them a long time ago.”

Fletcher, a graduate of Hartwick College, remains free on her own recognizance after being charged with two counts of third-degree rape, one count of third-degree criminal sexual act and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

She was arrested Nov. 14. State Police announced her arrest on Nov. 19 without noting she had been a teacher and the alleged victims were students. After The Daily Star reported Nov. 20 that a former Walton teacher was facing sex charges, the school district issued a letter to parents, saying it was constrained from commenting because of the police investigation.

In New York, a youth less than 17 years of age cannot legally consent to sex. The two alleged victims were 16 years old at the time of the reported contact with Fletcher, who is 28. At the time, she was married to Kirk Fletcher, a 2004 graduate of Walton High School.

According to Department of Education regulations, teachers accused of an act raising questions about their moral fitness face a “Part 83” investigation and possible hearing that could lead to their teaching certificate being revoked or suspended. They can also be fined up to $5,000.

Walton school administrators have declined to discuss the Fletcher matter, noting the State Police probe is ongoing.

In a statement to police investigators, one of the two 16-year-old boys who has alleged Fletcher had sexual contact with them said he initially reported the relationship to the high school principal, Michael MacDonald. The boy said he had initially denied the sexual relationship when he was first questioned about it by a party who was not identified in his statement.

“Obviously, she told people, so I was called down a few times and questioned about it,” he said. “I told them ‘no’ at first, but finally when I had enough of the bull crap I broke down and told them, which was just this year.”

Stephanie Fletcher is no longer employed by the Walton School District.