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CLIFTON PARK: Teacher's arrest shocks Shen

Many Okte Elementary School parents are expressing shock over the arrest of first-grade teacher Christopher Culver for allegedly fondling more than one first-grade student, according to Shenendehowa Central School District spokeswoman Kelly Deficiani.

Culver, 32, was arrested at his home last weekend and charged with first-degree sexual assault for allegedly fondling first-grade male students.

New York State Trooper Maureen Tuffey said that Culver has admitted to wrongdoing.

He made very specific statements that implicated him, she said.

An investigation was launched after a parent contacted Okte Elementary principal Deborah Price on Thursday, Feb. 8, with concerns that a classroom teacher inappropriately touched her son.

Since the investigation began, at least one other victim has been identified, according to Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy.

Culver has been released from jail on $50,000 bail and is expected to appear in Clifton Park Town Court on Thursday, Feb. 15. Murphy said that Culver will likely go to trial before a grand jury and could face up to seven years in prison.

Deficiani said that Culver has been suspended with pay for the rest of the school year. She also said that the arrest has been equally shocking for the school district because Culver, who has been with the school district for eight years, had a stellar record.

"He was very well liked. He was the most asked for (teacher)," said Deficiani.

District Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson said that the situation represents a significant breach in a sacred relationship between a child and teacher who are together all the time while school is in session. "There has been a significant compromise of the blind faith trust relationships that we in many ways see as infallible " the relationship that we have with our colleagues, with parents, and most importantly, with the students," Robinson said.

In addition to meeting with parents, the school district has posted information and advice on its Web site about how parents can talk to their children about sensitive topics. This information can be found at www.shenet.org/speaking_with_your_child.htm. ""

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