Willsboro Central School.
A Willsboro teacher at the center of a parent protest has spoken out about the allegations surrounding her.
In an email to the Valley News sent Nov. 19, Willsboro Central School teacher Natalie Foster made her first public comment since the Willsboro Board of Education reinstated her following an investigation into the environment in her classroom.
“All I can say is that that I am very sad,” Foster said. “As all teachers at Willsboro Central, I have always been very dedicated to my profession in an effort to provide all my students with a solid foundation to build on. I care deeply about all my students well-being and would never do anything to harm a child.”
Foster also defended herself against accusations made on social media and other outlets.
“Rumors were spread on Facebook and the media that are simply not true,” Foster said. “I am moved by the tremendous amount of support from people in the community who know me personally and have worked with me.”
After an investigation into several accusations by parents of children in Natalie Foster’s first grade classroom that included a recording that was made public through social media of her speaking harshly to children, the board reinstated Foster to her first grade teaching duties with the inclusion of an additional, “veteran teacher,” in her classroom.
“A personnel investigation has been concluded and the Board of Education has been briefed and advised by the school district’s attorney,” the board said jointly in a Nov. 12 statement. “All personnel issues are confidential and not allowed to be addressed in public. The district takes all such issues very seriously and has acted and responded accordingly. The district is able to report that it is putting additional measures into effect to ensure and promote positive classroom experiences for all students. This includes appointing a veteran teacher who will participate by bringing her experience and expertise into the classroom for a period of time. As of tonight (Nov. 12), the district has concluded the issue and hence no formal action is to be taken by the board.”
“There is a very limited amount which I can say because this is a personnel matter,” Superintendent Stephen Broadwell said. “We have the statement that was read at the board meeting.”
“My question would be how they can feel that she is fit to teach their five and six year old students,” said Lynn Green, a parent who has removed her child from the classroom in response to the board’s decision. “They must see that she is not fit to be in that classroom because they have hired a second teacher in their as basically a babysitter.”
Green was one of several parents who gathered by the entrance to the school Nov. 14, two days after the decision of the board, to protest the return of the teacher.
“My daughter loved to go to school and couldn’t wait to go at the start of the year,” Green said. “Then she was crying every morning saying that she didn’t want to go. Now I know why.”
Green said that she had been joined by several parents in bringing their concerns to Broadwell about teacher’s behavior in the classroom about two months ago, where they played him a three minute portion of a recording made when one of the parents hid a recording device in their child’s backpack.
On the tape, a voice reported as Foster’s is heard speaking loudly toward students, telling them to, “shut up.”
“After hearing the tape we gathered together as parents and called the school to set up a meeting with Mr. Broadwell,” Green said. “We voiced our concerns and then we played the clip for him.”
Green said after hearing the tape, Broadwell removed Foster from the classroom and began the investigatory part of the matter.
After the decision was reached, Green said she was not the only parent to remove her child from the school.
“Five or six parents have pulled their child from the school and have made arrangements to get their education in other places,” she said. “We will continue to fight this.”
Green said that there have been some people who have claimed the parents have been too hard on the teacher. She disagrees.
“Bullying is being made into such a huge thing and that is essentially what this teacher has been doing,” she said. “Actions like this may have been acceptable before, but it is not now.”