Mount Markham principal on leave after allegedly using excessive force on 3rd grader

James Lafountain

The principal of

Mount Markham Elementary School

is on administrative leave amid allegations he used excessive physical force while restraining a third grade student.

57-year-old James Lafountain, of 100 Hopson Street in Utica, has been with the West Winfield school district since 2006. CNY Central has reached out to state police to find out details of exactly what happened.

Speaking with CNYCentral by phone, Superintendent Casey Barduhn says the district takes the allegations seriously. Barduhn later issued a statement saying, "The School District was made aware of allegations involving the building principal and, following our initial investigation, we then filed the required documents and reports to both the State Education Department and the NY State Police. We have, and will continue to fully cooperate with both agencies as they continue their investigation. We take this situation very seriously and will continue to place student safety as our priority."

Barduhn says the school board will meet to discuss and review its options. In the short term, Laura Nelson will take over as acting principal. She currently serves as Director of Pupil Services.

Lafountain is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. He was issued an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in the Town of Winfield Court on February 15.