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Mt. Markham Elementary Principal pleads not guilty to endangering the welfare of a child

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

WEST WINFIELD, N.Y. (WKTV) - Mount Markham Elementary School Principal James LaFountain pleaded not guilty Wednesday night to endangering the welfare of a child.

New York State Police arrested LaFountain, 57, of Utica, February 8th and charged him with one count of endangering the welfare of a child, after he allegedly used excessive force to restrain a third grade student at Mt.Markham Elementary School.

"The child has a history of causing problems in the school," says LaFountain's attorney Donald Gerace. "Mr LaFountain was requested by two other school personnel and to assist in having the child be brought into the school and directed toward a counselor's room."

Almost 300 people have joined a Facebook page called "We Support Mr. LaFountain!" created by one of his past students, showing support for the principal despite his recent charge.

"We're not denying that he grabbed a hold of the child's collar, of the jacket and guided him to his counselors room," says Gerace. "There isn't any question that the child was engaging in inappropriate behavior when this occurred and the child later on in the day apologized to Mr.LaFountain for his behavior."

The court issued an order of protection in favor of child, what Gerace says is standard in cases involving the welfare of a child.

"We have great faith in the criminal justice system, we hope that Mr.LaFountain is vindicated with respect to these particular charges," says Gerace. "We hope that the District Attorney's office and we can arrive at a mutually beneficial solution to this particular matter."

West Winfield Court released LaFountain on his own recognizance, he and his attorney are due back in court to make motions March 28th.

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