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Teacher's aide under investigation
Grand Island Correspondent
The Erie County Sheriff's Department is investigating claims by parents that a teacher's aide may have had inappropriate contact with a child at Grand Island's Veronica E. Connor Middle School.

Grand Island School Superintendent Thomas Ramming said the district acted immediately by placing the staffer on administrative leave on Thursday, the same day officials were told of the accusations. The aide's name was not released.

The father of the girl involved said, "Several girls, including our daughter, have recently reported that a teacher assistant at Connor Middle School exhibited inappropriate physical and verbal behavior towards them on several occasions."

The parents of the girl initially told their daughter's story to school officials and sheriff's investigators last week and since then have heard from six other families who said their children told similar stories. They said they were concerned more children were victimized but have not yet told their families.

According to Sheriff's Lt. James McMahon, the investigation could be wrapped up within a week and until then, he can't release specific details of the accusations.

"There is an investigation ongoing, but since it's an open case, we can't really get into the details," McMahon said. "This is a very sensitive issue for everyone involved, and until we have all the details, we don't want to ruin anyone's life."

McMahon said the investigation will be closed in one of two ways: either by an arrest after conferring with prosecutors in the district attorney's office or by determining no criminal acts were committed and finding the claims unfounded. If the claims are determined to be non-criminal, it could be turned over to the school district for action, in accordance with state education law.

"The investigation has been turned over to the sheriff's department and the person in question will not be allowed to return to work, or on district grounds at least until the investigation is complete," Ramming said.