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Family member claims Case Middle School teacher threatened her siblings

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On the day 20 students were shot to death in Newtown, Conn., a Case Middle School teacher may have threatened the lives of her students.

Ashley D. Newton, a sibling of twin students in the class, asked the Watertown City School District Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday what actions had been taken about the teacher’s alleged threats nearly a six weeks earlier.

Miss Newton, Watertown, claimed math teacher Lorelei L. Vigliotti told the seventh-grade class on Dec. 14 that her daughter was going to be their substitute teacher the following Monday.

“She said, ‘If you give her any trouble and you misbehave, your lives will come to an end,’” Miss Newton said after the meeting. “When I heard this, I was speechless. We like to think we’re untouchable, but to hear a teacher say that, I’m shocked.”

She did not reveal her brother’s and sister’s names, saying as they were not her children, it was not her place to do so.

Miss Newton said someone was observing in the classroom when Mrs. Vigliotti came back that Tuesday.

She said her brother told her the teacher caught herself before saying anything negative to the class.

“She was as nice as can be,” Miss Newton said

Although Miss Newton’s sister took the teacher’s comment as a joke, her brother took it in a more serious manner.

“He came in and told my mom what she said,” Miss Newton said. “He made comments about what would have happened if (the shooting) happened at his school. This is the same brother that she said if he was a smartass again, she would slap him out of the chair.”

When her mother, Eva R. Ballenger of Watertown, complained to Assistant Principal Mark Bennett, he gave the teacher her name. The teacher, she said, called her mother at work to explain herself.

“The teacher commented that, ‘Yes, I made this comment, but you don’t understand how bad my class is,’” Miss Newton said.

She said she was appalled Mr. Bennett would tell Mrs. Vigliotti the name of a person who complained about her. Miss Newton went to Principal Terry L. Gonseth, then complained to Superintendent Terry N. Fralick and Board President Michael R. Flick and was frustrated as to why the teacher was still teaching in the classroom more than a month after the threat was made. She said no other comments had been made since the incident.

Although a move to adjourn the meeting had been seconded when she began addressing the board, Mr. Flick told her they would address her concerns in executive session.

“We do take comments, concerns very seriously,” he said after the meeting. “We have to respect the confidentiality on our side.”

Although he did not say what actions the board has taken, Miss Newton said she was pleased with what she was told. She said she was told not to talk about what was discussed during the executive session.

“I’m just glad it was handled in the manner it was supposed to be, and they took the appropriate steps,” she said.

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