Long-time F-M teacher files notice of claim against the district over alleged defamatory statements


Fayetteville-Manlius teacher Kent Jeffery  has filed a Notice of Claim against the school district he teaches in.  It alleges the superintendent made false and defamatory statements against Mr. Jeffery. In our article  we said that Mr. Jeffery claims that false and defamatory statements were made by Superintendent Craig Tice, School Board Vice President Marissa Joy Mims, School Board Member Timothy Crisafulli and District Clerk Michael Vespi.

The information reported by LocalSYR.com regarding Mr. Crisafulli and Mr. Vespi was inaccurate.
Mr. Crisafulli was at no time named as a defendant in this Notice of Claim, nor were any allegations made against him, either individually or in his role on the Fayetteville-Manlius School Board. Mr. Crisafulli  only received a copy of this Notice of Claim in his official capacity on the Fayetteville-Manlius school board.
Mr. Vespi was at no time named as a defendant in this Notice of Claim, nor have any allegations been brought against him, either individually or in his role as Fayetteville-Manlius District Clerk. Mr. Vespi only received a copy of this Notice of Claim in his official capacity as the Fayetteville-Manlius District Clerk.

LocalSYR.com apologizes for the errors.

A long-time Eagle Hill Middle School teacher has filed a notice of claim against the Fayetteville-Manlius School District over alleged false and defamatory statements.

F-M sixth grade teacher Kent Jeffery is in his 25th and final year with the district. Kent’s 16-year-old son Brett has autism.

Both Kent and his wife, Marilyn, claim the F-M School District has been “unwilling” to provide the necessary learning tools for Brett, including a typing tool he can use to communicate.

Kent’s older son, Ryan, graduated from F-M High School last year. Instead of Ryan spending his senior year in high school with his younger brother, walking the same halls — the Jefferys made the difficult decision to live apart so Brett and Marilyn could live in the East Syracuse Minoa school district where he’s continuing his high school education.

“It’s been horrific. It’s been hellish,” Marilyn said. “As I said we’ve been under so much stress. We’ve lost so much sleep wondering, how much longer can we go on?” Now, the Jefferys are planning to put their Manlius home up for sale so they can make the move to the ESM District permanent.

However, the Jefferys say their battle with the district is not over.

“We have bought in a different district. We are moving out,” Kent said. “This is a moral and ethical battle Marilyn and I are fighting at this point.”

F-M Superintendent of Schools Dr. Craig Tice says the district does everything possible to work with each student and their family to achieve the best learning.

“We understand that parents are going to be advocates for their children and we respect that but ultimately it comes down to a committee, a team of professionals, making that decision,” Tice said. “Not in a vacuum. The parents and the student advocates are included but it has to be a group decisions and then we try to go forward.”

When asked if he was concerned about a family, and potentially other families, leaving the district for other special education offerings in neighboring districts, Tice replied:

"It’s a personal decision based on satisfaction level of why families choose to move out. We respect that decision. It’s nothing we aspire to, but we have families moving in every day and our message to those families is our door is always open. We want to work with you and we want to partner with you.”

The statements are alleged to be “damaging to Kent Jeffery’s character," according to Kent Jeffery's lawyer, Mike Castle.

"It’s a black eye on a very elite district, I’m very proud to have worked in for 25 years," Kent Jeffery said. "I’ve done my best to earn a reputation of honesty and integrity in this district.”

Tice tells NewsChannel 9 that the district cannot comment on litigation.

Castle says there is now a 90-day period where he hopes the matter can be resolved.

If it is not resolved, there is an option to file a lawsuit, according to Castle.

“My son is a student, or was a student, in this district and he’s gone, but there’s other kids like him coming up and I’ve never turned my back on my students and I never will as long as I teach in this district," Kent Jeffery said. "And that’s why we’re going to keep fighting.”

See the claim below: 

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