The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

March 22, 2013

DA looks to wrap up investigation into librarian

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — The investigation of charges against a Stamford Central School librarian and tennis coach is expected to be concluded next week, Delaware County District Attorney Richard Northrup Jr. said Thursday.

Carrara Knoetgen is on paid administrative leave from her positions at Stamford Central School as Northrup investigates a charge of inappropriate sexual contact with a former male student. His office said he is following up leads and conducting interviews in the case involving an 18-year-old male who is no longer at Stamford. 

She is in her late 20s, having graduated from Stamford in 2004, under her maiden name of Carrara Tait. She was hired by the school in 2008 and is tenured. 

Northrup said his office started investigating the case Monday after it got a report from another law enforcement agency. He didn’t want to be more specific at this stage of the investigation. Since the age of consent is 17, it’s possible no crime was committed, he said.

Stamford Central School Superintendent Katy Barber said the school took all necessary steps after the district attorney’s office contacted the school, although these are only allegations, she aid. This included notifying parents and the school’s insurance carrier as well as filing appropriate forms with the state Education Department.

In hiring all staff, the district checks a number of references, fingerprints are cleared by the state police and various other background checks are performed.

In discussing additional steps the school takes to deal with these kinds of possible issues, Principal Ruth Ehrets said there is a code of ethics in each teacher’s contract in which they agree to such things as adhering to school policy, “remaining impartial” in all relations with students and “maintaining a wholesome attitude to the student. Professional development is regularly done that can include teacher conduct.

A spokeswoman with the state Education Department said as a general rule, the agency does not release information pertaining to a certified educator under investigation. When an investigation results in agency action, certain information will be available under the Freedom of Information Law. General information provided includes: when a school district makes charges against a tenured teacher, in almost all circumstances they are entitled to receive full pay and benefits throughout the duration of the disciplinary process.

The state does not have a role in deciding the outcome of a tenured teacher hearing, according to information she provided.