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Mother claims daughter being bullied by EK teacher aide

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RUSSELL - The mother of an Edwards-Knox Central student who said her daughter is being bullied by a faculty member said district officials are not addressing the problem.

Wendy L. Sharpe, 18 Pyrites-Russell Road, said she’s concerned for the safety of her daughter, Cora A., a 15-year-old 10th grader.

She alleges that her daughter is being bullied by Abigail Tresidder, a tenured teacher assistant.

“I’m worried about my daughter’s safety and I want something done,” said Ms. Sharpe, who is a news clerk at Northern New York Newspapers Corp. in Canton. “I wasn’t even allowed to speak to the school board.”

Mrs. Tresidder declined to comment when contacted by telephone Wednesday.

School Board President Theresa A. Hogle said the school board reviewed the situation, but members are not allowed to discuss personnel matters.

“Appropriate actions were taken. I’m not allowed to reveal what they are,” Mrs. Hogle said Thursday. “As far as I know, it’s been taken care of and there’s nothing left to do.”

Mrs. Sharpe’s daughter transferred to the school in September from Norwood-Norfolk Central.

The dispute stems from a Nov. 30 confrontation between Miss Sharpe and Mrs. Tresidder’s daughter, MacKenzie, who is also a student at Edwards-Knox.

That day while eating lunch in the cafeteria, Miss Sharpe said she stood up and threw her milk and napkins at Miss Tresidder because she was staring at her and had previously been taunting her over the Internet.

During the fight that erupted between the two girls, Mrs. Tresidder allegedly ran into the cafeteria screaming and had to be restrained from striking Miss Sharpe, according to a written affidavit signed by Miss Sharpe. Several other students also signed affidavits that said Mrs. Tresidder was restrained by her son, Tyler Tresidder, from hitting Miss Sharpe.

Miss Sharpe said as she was being escorted to the principal’s office by teacher Brittany Rickett, Mrs. Tresidder ran down the hall after them, yelling to her that she should “go back where you came from,” because no one here likes you.

The yelling allegdly continued while Miss Sharpe was in the principal’s office with former High School Principal Michelle J. Varian, School Superintendent Suzanne L. Kelly, Mrs. Rickett, Mrs. Tresidder and a secretary.

Miss Sharpe immediately received in-school suspension, followed by two days out-of-school suspension.

Ms. Sharpe said she was told that Miss Tresidder wasn’t punished because she didn’t start the altercation.

“What Cora did wasn’t right, but Mrs. Tresidder did not respond appropriately or professionally,” Mrs. Sharpe said. “She was out of control.”

Mrs. Sharpe said she was informed that a school video camera that would have supported her daughter’s account was not working on the day of the fight.

Ms. Rickett could not immediately be reached for comment.

Since the incident, Ms. Sharpe alleges that Mrs. Tresidder has continued to harass her daughter in school, give her dirty looks in the hallway and make her feel uncomfortable.

Ms. Kelly said she handled the incident at both the student and staff level and it’s now being reviewed by the school board.

“It is above me now,” Ms. Kelly said.

She declined to say if any disciplinary action was taken against Mrs. Tresidder.

Ms. Sharpe said Ms. Kelly informed her that Mrs. Tresidder would be disciplined, but she would not tell her what measures would be taken.

“It’s been almost three months, and as far as I can tell, there has been no actions taken to ensure the safety of my daughter,” Mrs. Sharpe said. “She sees Abby daily and feels stalked by her. Something needs to be done. What if this was your daughter?”

The written affidavits presented to the school board were collected by Tammy M. Mackin, a member of the Edwards-Knox Watch Group. The group was formed to monitor safety of students at the school, she said.

Mrs. Mackin met with the school board in executive session on Feb. 11 to explain her concerns about the incident between Miss Sharpe and Mrs. Tresidder.

“I was treated as insignificant and incompetent, then silenced in mid-sentence as though they had no concern at all,” Mrs. Mackin said in an email. “I believe this is a problem that should concern every taxpayer, as well as myself. Safety of our children while attending school should be of the utmost importance and certainly one of our top priorities.”

Mrs. Mackin said she has asked the school board to consider dismissing Mrs. Tresidder and bringing charges against Ms. Kelly for neglecting to properly discipline Mrs. Tresidder and for allowing the harassment to continue.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Mackin said she received a letter from Mrs. Hogle informing her that her written complaint and the affidavits from students were forwarded to the district’s attorney, Andrew W. Silver, Canton.

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