Cohoes assistant superintendent hit in the face, resigns

COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) – An emergency board meeting was held at Cohoes Middle School on Wednesday evening to accept the resignation of James P. Stapleton, the district’s facilities director, who is accused of punching Assistant Superintendent Dan Martinelli on school property in April.

Assistant Superintendent Dan Martinelli has submitted his resignation from the Cohoes City School District following an alleged assault by James P. Stapleton, the district’s facilities director, who is facing charges of third degree assault and harassment for the incident.

The altercation occurred on April 16th at the district’s headquarters on Page Avenue. According to police reports, Stapleton allegedly punched Martinelli in the face and threw him into filing cabinets, causing minor injuries.

Martinelli, despite the assault, chose not to retaliate and reported the incident to district officials. “It is with a heavy heart that I leave the district,” Martinelli stated, expressing disappointment in the handling of the incident and, what he described as the lack of appropriate action taken by the district.

Sara Burwell, Martinelli’s assistant, also resigned, citing a troubling workplace encounter with Stapleton shortly before the alleged assault. 

“I believe my testimony is crucial to this investigation,” Burwell wrote in a letter to Superintendent Peggy O’Shea, expressing frustration over the attorney for the district declining to interview her.

Burwell’s sister spoke at the school board meeting, What I was reading in there, was my own personal beliefs,” she said, “I wanted the board to know. I wasn’t sure if anybody was aware…If anybody read my sister’s statement about what happened.”

“I think we all have a standard for how we want to be treated, and this violated my standard,” explained Martinelli. 

The incident has sparked broader conversations about workplace safety within the district, teachers at the meeting saying they no longer feel safe at school.

“Somehow, an employee was assaulted by another employee,” said faculty member John Skeets, “the assaulter, as far as I know, was not reprimanded”.

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