JHS Teacher Involved In Lawsuit Resigns
The Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education approved the resignation of Larry Bentzoni, a high school teacher.
Bentzoni was previously placed on paid administrative leave following a 2018 classroom incident that resulted in him being charged by the Jamestown Police Department. Bentzoni recently filed a lawsuit against the school district on April 11 seeking repayment for attorney and court fees of at least $2,000.
Bentzoni was previously charged for the Nov. 16, 2018 incident involving a student in a Jamestown High School classroom. The charges filed in November were adjourned in contemplation for dismissal in 12 months, according to Jamestown attorney Peter Pillittieri. Pillittieri is representing Bentzoni on the criminal charges. If Bentzoni does not violate the law for a year, the charges will effectively be dismissed in their entirety. Prior to Tuesday’s hearing, Bentzoni pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.
The board approved the resignation and a separation agreement between the Jamestown teacher and the school district. Bentzoni’s resignation will be effective June 30, 2019, according to the resolution. Because it is a personnel matter, Bret Apthorpe, JPS superintendent, could not comment on the specifics of Bentzoni’s resignation.
In April when asked about Bentzoni and the lawsuit against the school district, Apthorpe said, “The only thing I can comment about (Bentzoni) is he’s still an employee of the district and that he’s not working directly with students. He’s working here in the central office. … We typically wait for the outcome and findings before we determine what our next steps are.”
According to Newyorkdatabases.com, Bentzoni began in the district in 1986.
The board voted unanimously to approve both resolutions involving Bentzoni.
Bentzoni’s petition to the Supreme Court in Chautauqua County detailed the events that lead to the original charges last year.
According to court records, Bentzoni was teaching a class in a high school computer lab when a student returned from a bathroom break. The student, according to Bentzoni, caused a disruption and began to wander around the room.
The student allegedly swore in the classroom several times, to which Bentzoni replied to the class, “Have you ever seen a teacher kick a student’s (expletive)?”
Bentzoni said he then “put his hands on (the student’s) back, between his shoulder blades, and attempted to guide (the student) back to his seat.”
The student responded by saying “Get your (expletive) hand off me (expletive),” before leaving the classroom. The student’s father filed a complaint with a school resource officer and JPD. The complaint alleged that Bentzoni had struck the student on the back of the neck and twice across the face without provocation.
Bentzoni claimed he spent $2,000 on legal representation as of April 11. In November, he sent a letter to the school requesting “defense and indemnifcation” from the district. He was notified by JPS around Dec. 13, 2018 that he would not be receiving any assistance from the school district.
In January, Bentzoni completed an anger management course totaling $90.
The suit against JPS claims he should be compensated for costs of defending himself “for actions taken during the discharge of his duties within the scope of his employment.”