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Canastota: School superintendent addresses 'smear campaign'

Canastota Board of Education President Carla DeShaw opened the meeting Tuesday night with a prepared statement that a "smear campaign" against Superintendent of Schools Fred Bragan had circulated through the district.

"Anonymous material was distributed around the district with the sole purpose to discredit, dishonor and attack our superintendent and members of the board of education," DeShaw said. "It became obvious to the board that the purpose of this smear campaign was to attack our superintendent."

She said the information distributed was erroneous and those involved had their own agenda. She called the attempt "mean spirited and cowardly," and asked if there was anyone who could shed some light on the identity of those who distributed the materials.

This came two weeks after students, parents and faculty crammed into the cafeteria March 27 to address rumors that high school Principal Donna Marie Norton would be terminated at the end of the school year.

Bragan had his own prepared statement that he read during the meeting.

"Two decades ago I was arrested over a silly misunderstanding," Bragan said. "After reviewing the entire matter the charges were dismissed by the courts in the interest of justice. There was no plea bargain nor were there any provisions placed on me under law.

Bragan said the charges were considered invalid and he was told at that time those records would be sealed.

"It was an embarrassing moment in my life and one that I had put behind me," he said.

"Now, more than 20 years later I am reliving this moment because of an individual or individuals who wish to try to attack my character, discredit or defame me by engaging in a smear campaign," Bragan said. "What is more disheartening is the fact that they are trying to do this anonymously by secretly planting so-called evidence around the district. I find these actions despicable and deplorable."

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