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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 26, 2010

Substitute teacher arrested on felony

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — A man arrested this week for trying to send indecent material to a minor had worked at area schools, including Guilderland, as a substitute teacher.

“We’ve had no reports of anything suspicious, no complaints,” said Guilderland’s interim superintendent, Michael Marcelle, yesterday. He also said, “This individual will never be here again.”

Nicholas Cramer, 28, of Partridge Street in Albany, was arrested for attempted dissemination of indecent material to a minor, a felony, and for attempted endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

He was arrested in Guilderland “at a predetermined location where he had made plans to meet two girls 14 years of age for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct,” according to a release from State Police.

“We’re not disclosing that location,” said Trooper Maureen Tuffey, spokeswoman for the State Police.

Cramer was arraigned in Guilderland Town Court and sent to Albany County’s jail in lieu of $25,000 cash bail or a $100,000 bond, according to State Police; he is scheduled to appear in Guilderland court again today, Aug. 26, at 5:30 p.m.

Cramer’s Facebook page lists his interests as “New Bands, Pizza, Laughing, Being a Dork, Movies, Video Games, Lucky Charms Marshmellows, Sports, Making Out, Massages, Texting, Ice Cream, Gummy Bears.”

Cramer came to substitute at Guilderland through the Captial Region BOCES Substitute Service. He worked two days during the last school year at Farnsworth Middle School and one day at Guilderland Elementary School as a substitute physical-education teacher, Marcelle said.

Marcelle stressed that, under New York State law, school employees are fingerprinted and their backgrounds are checked. “At the time he substituted, he had no record,” said Marcelle.

Yesterday, Marcelle sent a letter home to parents of children who attended Guildeland Elementary or Farnsworth Middle schools, which said, “According to New York State Police, Mr. Cramer was a substitute teacher for at least three area school districts for a total of six days last spring…. Cramer has been permanently removed from the Guilderland substitute teaching list.”

“It’s a sad situation, but we’re being proactive,” said Marcelle yesterday.

Cramer has also been removed from the Capital Region BOCES’ list of eligible substitutes, “pending the outcome of the police investigation,” according to the BOCES website, which also says that Cramer, through BOCES, worked at three area school districts this past spring.

Cramer had worked before that as a substitute teacher at the Fort Plain Central School District. “He last subbed for us in 2007,” the Fort Plain superintendent, Douglas Burton, told The Enterprise yesterday.  “I am not aware of any issues with him.”

Guilderland has dealt with the issue before. In January 2001, Guilderland Police charged a substitute teacher with endangering the welfare of a child and harassment after he allegedly inappropriately touched a 13-year-old Farnsworth Middle School student while working at the school. At the time, Nancy Andress, the curriculum director who headed the Safe Schools Committee and has since retired, said, “We want people to have confidence. There’s more we can do.”  While most school districts have rigorous hiring practices for full-time teachers as well as extensive training and evaluation procedures, substitutes are a weak link in the system. Andress said then the district would look at training for and monitoring of substitute teachers.

Marcelle’s letter to parents concludes, “Please do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience if you have any questions or concerns.”

He said yesterday, “If there are concerns raised, we’ll bring in staff for counseling.”

Cramer’s arrest stemmed from an investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Albany County Attorney General’s Office, the State Police Computer Crimes Unit and the Clifton Park Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The State Police said they would be working with school administrators “in an attempt to identify any additional victims.”

Minors who were approached by Cramer or who have further information about his inappropriate conduct are asked to call State Police at 383-8583.

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