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Keshequa parents demand answers
Nunda, N.Y. -- While parents demanded answers, the New York State Department of Education and the Keshequa Central School District played the blame game Tuesday.
"There is a snake somewhere," said Katrina Spencer, parent of a sixth-grade band student. "We still are not getting answers. Nobody is telling us anything."
Parents like Spencer went to the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night to try to figure out what and when the district knew about the music teacher who admitted to stealing musical instruments for drug money.
Education department officials said they notified the district about Danielle Connor-Willowglade's first arrest back in October. According to the state, the district was informed Connor-Willowglade was arrested on drug charges within days of the booking process.
"Not true. Who did you speak to? I'd love to have a conversation with him," Keshequa Superintendent Don Covell said. "No one notified me."
Covell said the district didnt get a notification from the state about the Oct. 21 drug arrest until March 14.
Four days later, Connor-Willowglade was arrested again, accused of stealing and pawning up to 50 district instruments in a year's time.
"It was really a strange set of circumstances, but I dont think anyone internal with the school district had any awareness this was going on," Covell said.
Had he known, Covell said he would have placed Connor-Willowglade on administrative leave, which is what he did following a string of arrests taken in three days in the last week.
Covell said those arrest notifications arrived on time.
"It's horrible that its happening to our district," Spencer said. "Even if the superintendent wasnt notified, school officials should have realized there was a problem a while ago."
"She was pale, moody and she was different," Spencer continued. "My son even said that she was angry and yelling, and I just thought 'He's an 11-year-old. OK, you have a mean teacher.'"
According to investigators, Connor-Willowglade stole to fuel a $200-a-day heroin habit.
"Somehow she lost her way," Covell said. "We dont know what happened and I don't think anyone had an awareness. Kids certainly had an awareness that something wasn't right and things were wrong."
Connor-Willowglade will remain on paid leave until the courts determine her to be innocent or guilty, but Covell said her teacher certification could be revoked by the state before then.
A long-term substitute teacher has been brought in to take over band classes for elementary, middle and high school students.
Covell said with the donations that have come, the district should have enough instruments to play its spring concerts.