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Fallsburg teachers speak out on heroin investigation

March 26, 2014

FALLSBURG, NY — Teachers and members of the Fallsburg teachers union turned out to the Fallsburg town meeting on March 24 to protest the way they have been treated by police and the school resource officer in the wake of two discoveries of heroin in a men’s bathroom at Benjamin Cosor Elementary School in recent months.

It had been widely reported that the teachers had initially been willing to submit to drug tests but then declined to do so on the advice of the union. Patricia Bertholf, president of the Fallsburg Teachers Association, said that was not what happened. She said the teachers had offered to submit to the tests but the police officers were not prepared to administer them.

Teacher Dominick Scanna said that a total of five teachers and one teacher’s aide have now been tested for heroin, and all of the tests were negative.

Bertholf said another falsehood that had been spread regarding the incident was that the bathroom in question was for staff only. She said anyone could have used the restroom, and that Fallsburg teachers had been treated unfairly during the investigation, saying, “It’s as if they were assumed to be guilty from the beginning.”

Bertholf also said that because of the incident, the trust between the staff and the school resource officer Martin Gonzalez had been badly damaged.