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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 25, 2009

2nd arrest for BKW principal

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — Nearly a year after being arrested at her home in Schodack for threatening a woman with a kitchen knife, former Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School Principal Mary Petrilli was arrested again last week, at the same location, for violating an order of protection.

The victim, with whom she had shared a home, obtained an order of protection against Petrilli because of last summer’s incident, said Maureen Tuffey, spokeswoman for the New York State Police.

The June 17 arrest came just weeks before her retirement from BKW takes effect.

Investigation revealed that, at about 6:40 p.m., Petrilli “forced entry into a residence and destroyed the resident’s property,” according to a release from the New York State Police. Petrilli, 55, who now lives in Clifton Park because of last year’s events, has been charged with second-degree burglary, first-degree criminal contempt, possession of burglar’s tools, and driving while intoxicated. Her breath sample revealed that she had a .17-percent blood-alcohol level — more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent.

Police would not reveal what burglar’s tools were used, and the accident report, Tuffey said, did not reveal specifically what property was destroyed.

Petrilli, a long-time BKW social studies teacher, had led the high school since 2000. She left for medical leave from October of 2007 to July 1, 2008. Last August — a month after she came back to work — she was arrested at the aforementioned home for menacing and possession of a weapon. Petrilli was placed on paid administrative leave as a result, and will remain on paid leave through June 30.

Last week, BKW appointed Thomas McGurl as its new high school principal — the first permanent replacement for Petrilli since her medical leave in 2007.

“At this point, it hasn’t had any visible or noticeable effect on anyone here at the district,” Superintendent Steve Schrade said of Petrilli’s recent arrest. “Of course, it’s an embarrassment to the district still, but it has not interfered, disrupted, or influenced the daily operations of the district in any way.”

This latest incident will have no effect on her status or impending retirement, Schrade said. “It’s a matter for the civil courts, not for any additional legal action on the part of the district,” he said.

Petrilli was arraigned at the Schodack Town Court in front of Judge Paul Peter, and remanded to the Rensselaer County jail. Her bail is set at $20,000.

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