Mayor, teachers, parents search for answers to SRO, Ludwig

OBSERVER photo by Jimmy McCarthy Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis asks board of education members what they’re doing as it pertains to a school resource officer during Tuesday’s meeting. Landis said village police have been called to the school roughly 19 times, and those trips are paid by village residents and not the district.

Parents and teachers came before the Fredonia Board of Education on Tuesday looking for answers regarding Middle School Principal Andy Ludwig — who still remains absent in the halls following an incident with a student several weeks ago.

No response was provided to attendees on Ludwig, what led to his absence or if and when he’ll be back.

Others came to the meeting with questions on the status of a school resource officer, who could have dealt with a combative student who Ludwig reportedly attempted to restrain.

Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis was one of nine people who spoke to the board. Coming as a mother, taxpayer and mayor, she asked a simple question to the board: What is going on with the school resource officer?

Landis said the Fredonia Police Department responded to many calls since classes began. Although the village is happy to help, she said the students deserve the services of a full-time resource officer.

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy The Fredonia High School Library was packed with teachers, parents and students who wanted answers regarding the absence of Middle School Principal Andrew Ludwig. No answers were given, however, as Michael Bobseine, board president, said it will come out in due time.

“In this time of era with drug abuse, and psychological and psychiatric issues, I don’t understand why a specific police officer, a special full-time officer who is trained, isn’t here every day.”

While she’s familiar with budgetary issues, Landis said she knows the village has helped with the money the district offered for a resource officer. Landis asked the board if the issue is a financial or a philosophical one.

Board President Michael Bobseine said in response that a discussion regarding a school resource officer will be on next month’s board agenda.

“We’ll have that discussion because it’s certainly well worth it, I think,” he said. “We’ll be able, maybe based on that discussion, to answer questions that you’ve posed.”

Parent Heather Davis came before the board again to acknowledge her support for Ludwig and discuss how things could have been different if a school resource officer was in place. Davis, who spoke at a meeting earlier in the month, said the room full of people is in high support of Ludwig.

“I do believe that if there was an SRO in place, that’s who would have been called,” she said.

Julie LaGrow said a school resource officer can be a valuable part of the school staff and important link between students, police and the community.

Stephen Keefe, former school administrator and mayor, told board members and school officials they’re in a bad situation with no resource officer. Keefe said Ludwig’s a good friend having spent time with him during his days as an administrator.

“Without a resource officer, it’s in the hands of the administrator to make that decision,” he said. “If a student is out of control, injures themselves or someone else and he does nothing, he’s wrong. As soon as he steps in and does something and takes control and gives protection to the student, himself and people around, in this case he’s wrong. Now you’re in a situation where you have no resource officer and no staff willing to give up their careers to do the right thing.”

Several retired Fredonia teachers who worked with Ludwig rose to speak. Judy Reynolds, former middle school teacher, said every school should have an Andy Ludwig. Michele Bogardus told the board not to make it career-ending for him.

Like last month, Bobseine said the district values every employee and every student, and any issue that involves either one is not something the district can discuss.

“We hear what everyone has said. We take very close to heart everything that’s been shared with this board,” he said. “It will come out in due time whatever the decision is. We’re asking for your patience and that’s all I can say.”