Tod Mell resigns from the GCSD as his sentencing is adjourned again

Tod Mell

GUILDERLAND — Former Lynnwood Elementary teacher Tod Mell, who has pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child, one of his students, has had his sentencing adjourned for a second time.

Effective Dec. 27, he has resigned from his position with the Guilderland School District, after being on paid leave since April in a job with a salary of $91,290.

Mell submitted a resignation letter on Dec. 6, according to the Guilderland superintendent of schools, Marie Wiles. Dec. 6 is the date on which he was originally scheduled to be sentenced in Guilderland Town Court. The school board accepted his resignation at its last meeting, on Dec. 18, and the resignation became effective on Dec. 27, the second date for which he was scheduled for sentencing.

Mell’s sentencing is now scheduled for Jan. 17, 2019.

The incident that led to Mell’s arrest occurred during the 2010-11 school year, when Mell was a fifth-grade classroom teacher. No details about the incident have been released other than that it involved a girl student in Mell’s classroom who would have been about 10 at the time and who first came forward eight years later, in April 2018.

The juvenile female who brought the complaint was born in 2000, according to Cecilia Walsh, spokeswoman for the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, which would mean she is now about 18.

It is “completely typical” for victims of inappropriate physical contact or other kinds of sexual assault to take months or years before deciding to come forward, said Karen Ziegler earlier. Ziegler is the director of the Albany Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center.

Mell’s paid leave started on April 27, when the school district was first informed by the Guilderland Police that the Albany County District Attorney’s office was investigating an incident of abuse that had just been reported for the first time. Mell pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge in October, following a five-month investigation.

Wiles said this week that the only way Mell could have been placed on unpaid leave would have been if that had been ordered by a hearing officer, following a 3020a district-launched discipline process.

In the case of a criminal investigation, Wiles said, the district usually places an employee on leave pending the outcome.

Walsh told The Enterprise earlier that Mell faces a two-year term of probation that will include certain sex-offender conditions, to be agreed upon at his sentencing. He will surrender his teaching certification at sentencing, Walsh said, and a final order of protection will be issued for the victim.

Mell was originally scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 6, but his attorney at the time, Michael P. McDermott of O’Connell & Aronowitz, requested an adjournment, according to Guilderland Town Court Clerk Jennifer Stephens.

On Dec. 26, just before the new sentencing date of Dec. 27, Guilderland Judge John Bailey granted a second adjournment. Stephens said Mell had “very recently” hired a new attorney, Kevin Luibrand of the Luibrand Law Firm in Latham, who requested the adjournment.

Neither Mell nor Luibrand could be reached for comment.

Mell was hired by the Guilderland school district in 1995 as a fifth-grade teacher at Lynnwood. He was selected in October 2010, the year of the incident, as one of a dozen district employees to be lauded for outstanding work at the 33rd Annual employee Recognition Ceremony. Mell started in the position of math specialist during the 2011-12 school year.  

Wiles said this week that there was no connection between the incident and his shift to the position of math specialist. “We didn’t know it happened, until April of this last school year, so there was no connection,” she said.

Each of Lynnwood’s five elementary schools has a math specialist, Wiles told The Enterprise earlier. The math specialist is not assigned to a particular classroom, but helps instructors teach math and provides additional help to struggling students. The job of math specialist is posted, and teachers apply for it, Wiles said.

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