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Canastota Schools: 'Discourse in the ranks'

Foreign language teacher Katie Hannifin had some concerns about an anonymous letter that was circulated throughout the district a couple of weeks ago. At the April 10 school board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Fred Bragan addressed a "smear campaign" initiated in the form of an anonymous letter that personally attacked his character.

The smear campaign followed rumors that Principal Donna Marie Norton would be terminated at the end of the school year.

I felt like that was really alarming," Hannifin said at the April 24 board meeting. "That we are at this really low point. It's almost a bi-product of our inability to follow protocol in the district."

Hannifin said she felt that if a problem arises with a particular staff member, the problem should be taken up with his or her immediate supervisor. She used a particular situation when she, as a tennis coach, had forgotten to put ice on the court, which resulted in an injury.

"It went straight to the board," Hannifin said.

Hannifin asked the board if historically it invited comment at the board meetings so as not to entertain it in the halls.

Bragan told Hannifin she shouldn't make assumptions when she didn't know the facts, and if she was referring to a personnel issue then it couldn't be discussed.

Whatever the issue was that Hannifin was trying to articulate, she said she asked the board if they realized the gravity of the situation and she felt it hadn't just appeared out of nowhere.

"I'm not here about personnel issues," Hannfin said. "I see this as a bigger picture. I see there is a connection, and I'd love to see it change. It's doing harm to a good community. There's a problem with protocol."

Trustee Robin Mitchell asked Hannifin what protocol she was talking about.

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