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Questions remain in teacher arrest

Nunda, N.Y. - There are reasons teachers are fingerprinted before hire. They are used to run background checks and alert officials if a teacher is arrested.

So why did Danielle Connor-Willowglade continue to teach at Keshequa Central School District five months after she was arrested for possession of heroin
and a hypodermic needle?

Superintendents of other school districts told 13WHAM News that the state Department of Education notifies school officials within days of the booking process. Whether or not that happened in this case is still unclear. This arrest either fell through the cracks at the state level, or the schools in Nunda and Dalton handled the matter internally. Donald Covell, Keshequa's superintendent, declined comment.

Connor-Willowglade was arrested for the third time in four days late Friday morning. Police said that she was trying to pawn more stolen instruments. Connor-Willowgladewas charged with possession of stolen property and arraigned at Irondequoit Town Court.

Now on paid leave, the band teacher is accused of stealing and pawning 42 musical instruments from the school district, each valued between $300 and $700. According to State Police, Connor-Willowglade said she pawned the instruments to support a $200 a day heroin habit.

The mother of four children, Danielle Szijarto said, "A heroin addict and stealing from children. I mean it was lot of to absorb and take in, and then the rage sets in. And the anger and the disappointment for these kids. I mean they were betrayed in many ways."

Without their instruments, students said they were hit with grade deductions and bills to pay for lost instruments.

Szijarto said the district ignored red flags, and even the kids noticed her behavior had changed.

"She would get very angry very quickly and scream and yell," Szijarto said. "So it was getting to a bad place before it was even found out that the instruments were taken."

According to court documents, the thefts started in February 2013, leaving Szijarto to wonder if the teacher was abusing drugs in the classroom.

"I mean heroin is a serious thing," she said. "It's not like you can just get high and go to work and not get high again. It is a constant state of needing that drug," Szijarto said.

In an effort to right this wrong, Szijarto started a 30-day online fundraiser. At, the campaign titled "Keshequa Central School Replacing Instruments" has already raised more than $700 in less than 24 hours.

"It's bigger than even just my kids," Szijarto said. "It's the whole community that's affected, and that's the point that I want to get across. We need to help the kids and help them now."

In hopes of replacing some of the stolen instruments, all of the money will be donated to the school. Szijarto said she wants to restore students' faith in adults, and show them that they can trust their teachers.

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Washington Times