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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 19, 2012

Accused of biting student
Guerette pleads not guilty

VOORHEESVILLE — The teacher who was arrested for allegedly biting a student last month pleaded not guilty to endangering the welfare of a child in village court on Monday.

“He definitely did not bite a student,” said James Knox, a lawyer from the E. Stewart Jones Law Firm, who is representing Michael Guerette.  “He was just doing his usual method of finding alternative ways” to get students excited about a lesson, Knox said yesterday.

Guerette, 50, who has taught in Voorheesville Elementary School for 18 years, was arrested by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office after he reported the incident to school administrators on Dec. 13.

According to the sheriff’s office, Guerette had been arm wrestling with one of his fifth-grade students when the boy’s classmates began participating by pulling on his arm to help the student win.  “During this ruckus, the victim reached her arm across the desk in front of Guerette pulling on the hand of the student who was wrestling the teacher,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a release.  “Guerette opened his mouth and bit the female student in the forearm leaving what the student said were teeth marks.”

The girl’s parents were not upset about the incident when they were called by district administrators, school Superintendent Dr. Teresa Thayer Snyder said last month.  Bound by the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education to report “Any information indicating that an individual holding a teaching certificate has been convicted of a crime, or has committed an act which raises a reasonable question as to the individual’s moral character,” Snyder notified the state’s education department and the sheriff’s office.

“I really stepped over the line today, I feel really bad.  I bit a kid,” he told principal Thomas Reardon, who was leaving to meet Snyder in Rochester for a conference, Snyder said.

A substitute teacher has been in charge of the class, but Guerette hopes to return, Knox said.

Village judge Kenneth Connolly issued an order of protection on Monday prohibiting Guerette from contacting the girl.  That is standard procedure in criminal cases, Knox said yesterday.

“This incident was only an accident that’s been blown out of proportion,” Knox said.  Guerette is due back in court on Feb. 6, he said.

Saranac Hale Spencer

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