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Teachers Union: Fallsburg teachers were vilified

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Albany/HV: Teachers Union: Fallsburg teachers were vilified
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FALLSBURG, N.Y. -- Teachers in the Fallsburg Central School District, and their union, come out in force to Monday's Town Board meeting after heroin was found twice in a men's bathroom at Benjamin Cosor Elementary School in recent months.

Dominick Scanna was one of the Falllsburg teachers who recently submitted to a drug test. His test came back negative.

The teacher of fourteen years said he was initially tricked into going to the police station, and that's why he sought council.

"We just got crucified for being someone who used a bathroom," said Scanna.

According to the union, Scanna, four other teachers and one teacher's aide all tested negative for heroin. Scanna claims Fallsburg teachers have been unfairly vilified by the police department and the school district.

The president of the union said despite reports, the bathroom in question was not exclusively for faculty use and could have been used by anyone.

"It was as if they were assumed guilty from the beginning and that's what we are fighting for the due process, their rights, to be considered innocent until proven guilty," said Patricia Bertholf, president of the Fallsburg Teachers Association.

Bertholf said teachers were ready to comply with a drug test when initially asked weeks ago.

They argue the claim the union was standing in the way of testing is false, and that police were initially not prepared.

"They were not prepared to do the testing. There were no tests to do and so that had nothing to do with us," said Bertholf.

If all of the teachers tested negative then who was using heroin at the elementary school? The District Attorney declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

As parents find out more information, Scanna hopes trust will be regained.

"I understand why they are angry at us because they didn't have the facts, but I hope that when they understand why we did what we did, they'll be a little less angry," said Scanna.

The union argues the relationship between teachers and the School Resource Officer has been destroyed. The school's superintendent was not immediately available for comment.

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