By JOE MAHONEY
The Daily Star
---- — Two former Walton High School students said Wednesday they are stunned by allegations that biology teacher Stephanie Fletcher had sexual contact with two underage male students at the school, calling her a caring educator who always had the welfare of students in mind.
“She was my favorite teacher in the world,” said Abby Kennedy, 16, of Delhi, who said Fletcher, 28, had been her biology teacher at Walton High School. “She’s an amazing lady who is always very supportive of her students. I don’t think Stephanie could have done what they say she has done.”
Kennedy, now a student at the State University College of Technology at Delhi after earning an general equivalency diploma, said she always received sound advice from Fletcher when she discussed a variety of personal situations with the teacher.
Adam Sanchez, who also had Fletcher as in instructor when he took a biology class at Walton, also said he doesn’t believe the allegations that are the basis of felony charges against the teacher. He claimed some female students wanted to cause problems for Fletcher after receiving failing grades from the teacher.
“These girls were saying she dressed trashily,” Sanchez said. “But Stephanie is an attractive lady, and no matter how she dressed, she looked good.”
According to a deposition that state police filed in Sidney Town Court, one of the alleged victims told investigators that he was “picked on and bullied” by a male teacher who had been having an affair with Fletcher. The alleged victim said he complained about the way the male teacher had been interacting with him in a letter sent to the home of the high school principal, Michael MacDonald.
The alleged victim told investigators that he believed he was being mistreated because the male teacher, whose name is being withheld by The Daily Star, was aware that he and Fletcher had had sexual contact.
A spokeswoman for the state Education Department had no immediate comment when asked if the agency will delve into the student’s allegations concerning the male teacher.
The student told a state police investigator in his deposition that he later went to the principal and showed him photos that Fletcher had sent to him, as well as messages he had received from her through their Facebook contacts.
The student told police that he believes the male teacher should no longer be teaching at the school. He described Fletcher as “a head case,” saying, “I don’t think she should ever be able to teach again.”
School officials have refused to discuss the case with The Daily Star, citing the fact that the state police investigation is ongoing.
The allegations that are the basis of the the two felony child rape charges against Fletcher have triggered concern throughout the community, Walton Village Mayor Patrick Meredith said.
“People are having a difficult time believing that something like this could have happened in the little town of Walton,” Meredith said. “The reaction everywhere is really one of general surprise.”
Meredith said he suspects Walton residents are eager to “get through this and put it in the past.”
“This has impacted several families in our community, and we hurt with them,” he said.