Tensions appear on rise in ‘cell’ probe | News, Sports, Jobs

SILVER CREEK — An investigation into an alleged “isolation cell” in the elementary school is continuing and becoming a bit contentious, the silver creek school board noted in an item posted on facebook late thursday.

District administrator Jay Hall sent a four-page letter to the Board of Education outlining allegations regarding the room in late March. He has since been put on administrative leave. Additionally, the district noted, Hall is refusing to meet with investigators to discuss the allegations.

“The Board of Education has also directed him to provide his information to me, to the Board, or to the investigator,” the post notes. “He refuses. This isn’t right. He remains our employee and yet he refuses to cooperate at every turn.”

In late March, a community meeting was held by parents and other individuals in Silver Creek to discuss the allegations. Hall was in attendance at that meeting, but did not speak. His attorney, Thomas Eoannou, said that Hall’s time to speak would come.

“There will come a time when Jay is going to speak out for everyone. He’s going to speak out loud, he’s going to speak out clearly, and he’s going to tell the truth,” said Hall’s attorney, Thomas Eoannou, at the March meeting. “But tonight is not that night. Tonight is not Jay’s night. He will not be saying a word.”

Later during that meeting, Eoannou said he would begin work on his own private investigation into the school.

“I’m not speaking on his behalf, and he hasn’t asked me to,” said Eoannou. “I’ll pay for the investigator. You bring your kids down, and we’ll get every single kid who has been stuck in that room. … I’m not doing this having anything to do with Mr Hall. But hearing what has been said, I want to do my part.”

Meanwhile, investigators for the school are completing interviews with individuals who may have information regarding the allegations, the district noted. A full report will be provided to the board shortly after all the facts have been gathered and witnesses interviewed.

Outside agencies, including the New York state Education Department’s Office of Special Education Quality Assurance; the New York state Education Department’s Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability; the Chautauqua County District Attorney through the New York State Police, Child Protective Services, the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Board of Cooperative Educational Services Safety Office, and the Silver Creek Fire Department have been part of the probe.

“Since my receipt of the letter on March 29, 2022, our board has taken this matter very seriously,” the Facebook post noted. “Mr. Hall has alleged that under our watch, children have been mistreated. Nothing could be more serious than that. Simply put, the board’s only goal from the start is to know whether the allegations are true, and if so, to take appropriate action. Within 24 hours, we designated an attorney to investigate the matter.”

In the meantime, the room is not being used at this time. “The board is confident the district is providing and will continue to provide a safe, secure, and welcoming environment for all students,” the post concluded.

Staff writer Anthony Dolce contributed to this article.

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