Two Cheektowaga teachers in phone controversy back at school

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Two of the three Cheektowaga Central High School teachers accused of having inappropriate communication with a murder suspect are now back at work.

The three were put on leave last summer, over jailhouse conversations with now-convicted killer Dontre Jones.

Cheektowaga Police Chief David Zack said, “It was pretty clear, you could see that the conduct of some was more egregious than the conduct of others. And of course, when you’re talking about discipline, you have to take that into account.”

Chief Zack is referring to a phone conversation between Jones and the teacher who’s still on leave, in which the teacher revealed the name of a potential witness.

The teacher said: “I hear (Witness 1) snitched on you.”
Jones responded: “Word?”
The teacher replied: “That’s what the kids said here.”

Cheektowaga School District Attorney Elizabeth Carlson said, “At this point, the district has reached a resolution with regard to the teachers who were suspended in August of 2013. The board and the administration both feel that this resolution is a reasonable resolution, and that it’s taken appropriate steps.”

Chief Zack added, “I certainly respect the decision that they’ve come to. It’s not our business, the police department’s business, to discipline teachers. We brought this matter forward because we felt that the public had a right to know what was going on inside classrooms, inside a public school, during a homicide investigation.”

Carlson reiterated Tuesday night it’s the district’s policy not to talk about personnel matters. However, she did say some action was initiated in January, with regard to the third teacher, “and that matter is still ongoing.”

Chief Zack says he regrets initially saying the teachers should all be fired. He says they deserve to be judged based on their entire career.

The Cheektowaga School Superintendent sent News 4 the following statement:

“The District is pleased that it has reached a resolution with regard to the status of two teachers who have been on administrative leave since August 2013. As is the case with personnel issues, the District is not at liberty to identify the teachers at issue or the details of the resolutions reached with each of them. However, the Board of Education and the Administration believe that each resolution is appropriate and in the best interests of the District, and that the District has effectively reinforced its expectations regarding standards of conduct.”

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