Monday, August 10, 2015

Moving past broken trust … to begin healing

The events of the past few weeks involving the Watervliet Police Department have been difficult and challenging for the school district, for our school families and for the community as a whole. The unsettling news of broken trust and alleged criminal activity has shaken our confidence in those who are sworn to protect and serve the community and uphold the law.

As I said from the outset, the charges against Joshua Spratt, a Watervliet police officer and the district’s former School Resource Officer, are deeply upsetting, and if true, are an egregious and unforgivable betrayal of the trust we all placed in him. As the superintendent of schools, I have taken personally the events that have unfolded in recent weeks because our families entrust educators with the safety and well-being of their children. I want to reiterate and to reassure our students, our parents and our staff that district officials followed proper procedure by reporting to Mr. Spratt’s superiors at the Watervliet Police Department the rumor that began circulating about his interactions with students.

This alarming incident has been a learning experience for us all, and that is why on opening day for staff this year, I have invited state law enforcement to speak to faculty and staff and review the appropriate protocol for reporting an allegation, however implausible it may seem, when the safety of our students is involved.

In the meantime, the investigation into Mr. Spratt and other members of the Watervliet Police Department is ongoing. District officials and I remain in contact with the Albany County District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Police. We have and we will continue to fully comply with the law enforcement agencies conducting the investigation.

I strongly encourage parents, students and/or staff who have concerns to contact me at any time. I again remind parents, students, staff and community members who may have information that may be relevant to the case to contact State Police investigators at 518-782-3211.

With classes starting in a few short weeks, our focus is to move past this troubling incident and help our students begin the new school year on a positive note.

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