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Wynantskill superintendent accused of bullying teachers

WYNANTSKILL -- The Wynantskill Teachers Association voted 28-1 in favor of a “no confidence” resolution against Wynantskill Union Free Superintendent Lisa Henkel.

The resolution said Henkel lacked the leadership to continue leading the district and accused her of bullying teachers during private meeting.

“We felt that Dr. Henkel had made administrative decisions that were unjust, unsafe or just uncalled for. We’re hoping by doing this resolution of 'no confidence' the board will hear our voice as well as the voice of the community,” said WTA President Matt Lutz.

Teachers also claimed Henkel was not meeting requirements for special education students, specifically with Individualized Education Programs.

“When the IEP's were written up, it was not incorporating the fact that the special education teacher was going to provide the reading service,” said Meredith Gavin, who has an autistic son in the district.

Gavin said she was never notified of the program changes. She brought her concerns that her son would lose out on reading time to the board and superintendent and eventually managed to get extra time implemented, but said the process was more difficult than it should be.

The WTA asked the board of education to fire Henkel, but the board issued a statement expressing disappointment in the teacher’s union and backing the superintendent after the resolution was made public.

“We have not seen any of that. In fact we've gone over all of the allegations in detail and from we can tell, there is no factual basis behind them. They are, if you read them, very emotional in nature and we just have not found any fact behind them,” said Board President Andrea Paone.

The teacher's union and parents are expected to attend a board meeting on July 11 to further discuss their concerns. All sides are hoping for a resolution before students return in the fall, but the union expressed concern if Henkel remains as leader.

“It's going to be a tough situation. There's low morale,” said Lutz. “It's going to be difficult for Dr. Henkel to have the faith or trust back with the teachers.”