A teacher and a teacher's assistant at John E. Joy Elementary school, in Rome, are charged with misdemeanors for an incident allegedly involving excessive discipline against three special needs elementary students younger than 10 years old. Teacher Ashley Rasbach, 30, is charged with two counts each of engangering the welfare of a child, a class-A misdemeanor, and 2nd-degree harrassment. Teacher assistant Maria Fountain, 47, one count each.
"There's allegations that a spray bottle was used to discipline the children," said Oneida County Sheriff, Robert Maciol. "There was some pushing alleged."
The alleged incidents happened in April, and came to light when another adult in the school witnessed, then reported, them. The Oneida County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney's Office were notified. Rome City Court issued summonses for Rasbach and Fountain. Police interviewed the students and their parents. Other parents in the district say there are more appropriate ways to discipline children.
"Send them to the office, send them to detention, make them get up and call an aide in and they need to leave the classroom because they're disrupting. So as far as that aspect, I don't feel the teachers had any right whatsoever to be doing something like that," said Elaine Hollenbeck
"As we understand it, the charges, while not condoned by the District and are serious in nature, are merely accusations at this point and both women, like all citizens, are presumed innocent of any criminal offense unless and until proven guilty in a court of law," said Rome School Superintendent, Peter Blake, in a statement. "We intend to take all steps necessary to respect Ms. Rasbach's and Ms. Fountain's rights while, at the same time, taking all prudent steps to ensure the welfare and safety of our students."
Blake added that the two are currently on leave from the district, but did not say whether it is paid or unpaid. Rasbach and Fountain are due in Rome City Court June 29th.