CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Former Horace Greeley High School drama teacher Christopher Schraufnagel has no disciplinary records in his personnel file that would predate the surfacing of sexual-abuse allegations in 2015, according to findings from John Chow, the Chappaqua Central School District's assistant superintendent for business.
Chow, who is the district's designated official for handling public-records requests, disclosed the findings on Friday afternoon in response to a state Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request from Daily Voice.
"Christopher Schraufnagel’s personnel record does not contain any disciplinary or laudatory documents," Chow wrote in an email.
Schraufnagel faces multiple student allegations of sexual abuse in both criminal and civil proceedings.
Daily Voice, which submitted the request on Aug. 29, sought copies of Schraufnagel's disciplinary history, along with documents that included praise for his performance. The FOIL request covered the entire duration of Schraufnagel's employment with the school district, which went from 2003 to 2015.
The absence of disciplinary records shows that Schraufnagel did not have any formal history of being sanctioned for alleged conduct. However, it does not mean that there were never any informal complaints.
For example, during public comment at a Sept. 27 school board meeting, longtime Greeley teacher George Benack claimed that he was one of several people who voiced concerns about Schraufnagel's conduct, although he did not elaborate on what it entailed.
“I don't blame anyone for the actions of one individual, but I know of at least three people who contacted the school administration regarding their concerns about Chris Schraufnagel long before June of 2015," he said. "I was one of them.”
After getting an applause from the audience, Benack added, “Some of these people tell me that their concerns went unacknowledged.”
School board President Alyson Gardner read a rebuttal statement at the board's Oct. 6 meeting, public-access video shows.
Without naming Benack, Gardner said that he sent an email in 2014 expressing concerns about the nature of a performance that Schraufnagel directed.
"Based upon a review of the email from 2014 and an interview of the teacher following the September 27th board meeting, it was determined that his concerns were about the content and costumes of public performances directed by Mr. Schraufnagel," Gardner said. "In his email to administration, the teacher states in part that he has 'the greatest respect for Mr. Schraufnagel's talents as a director and that students have benefited from his skill and expertise in the dramatic arts.'"
Gardner added that the complaint did not include any allegation of sexual conduct.
"In his email he made no claims of criminal acts, sexual abuse or inappropriate behaviors or conversations between Mr. Schraufnagel and his students. In the interview of the teacher following the board meeting of September 27th, he did not reveal that he knew of any other individuals who made complaints of sexual abuse or criminal actions to administration prior to June of 2015.”
Allegations against Schraufnagel came to light in June 2015 and he resigned the following September. Schraufnagel was charged with criminal sex-abuse counts last October. Earlier this week, New Castle Town Justice Douglas Kraus rejected a plea deal that called for Schraufnagel to plead guilty to three misdemeanor-level counts of endangering the welfare of a child, which entailed three years of probation time. Kraus cited the lack of sex-offender registration for his rejection of the deal.
The Westchester County District Attorney's office has submitted an amended plea deal to the judge, which is intended to address his concern, a prosecutor disclosed at a Thursday court appearance for the case. It is not clear whether Schraufnagel will accept the amended version.
Previous coverage of Schraufnagel can be read here.
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