Police: Sex offender gives local elementary students notes saying ‘I love you’

CANAJOHARIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – According to the Canajoharie School District and Canajoharie Police, a level two sex offender is now banned from being on school property.

This comes after school officials and police say the man interacted with children during breakfast at East Hill Elementary and made them uncomfortable.

Police say the local sex offender is well known to them and that they recovered six notes written by him on napkins that he gave to children during breakfast. Police say the man wrote “I love you” on the napkins and signed his name and added the date.

“With prior sex offenders that could possibly be construed as grooming,” Canajoharie Police Chief Bryan MacFadden said.

Legally, Canajoharie Police say the man was allowed to attend the breakfast, as the school allows family members to eat breakfast with their children. Police say the man was eating with his niece and her parents.

Police say although the man is a level two sex offender, there were no restrictions legally placed on him barring him from being at the school.

Heather Murphy’s son goes to East Hill.

“I’m not sending my kid to the school until you tell me what you’re going to do.”

The school enacted its own policy saying he was a disruption and banned him from the property.

Murphy was also not pleased she says she learned of the incident from Facebook.

“I felt I shouldn’t have had to find out through social media.”

Police say they were immediately notified by the school when staff and parents voiced concerns when the incident took place on Wednesday. School officials say they’ve already decided to make specific changes to ensure safety.

Concerned parents reached out to NEWS10 ABC regarding the incident.

Kasey Green says her child was at the same table as the man and he told her about the incident.

“Those kids were in a lot of danger, anything could have happened.”

Police say the man was never alone with children.

Parents, police and school officials met for a meeting Thursday morning to discuss this issue and the parents. Many NEWS10 ABC’s Lindsay Nielsen spoke with were pleased with what came out of the meeting.

The school will hold another meeting on this issue on Monday at 6 p.m. for East Hill parents.

Letter from the Superintendent:

 Dear Canajoharie families,

The purpose of this letter is to share information with you about a concern raised by East Hill Elementary students in regards to a visitor at school on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

During breakfast, a family visitor present in the East Hill cafeteria interacted with students in a manner that made some of them feel uncomfortable. Students reported the situation to staff members, who in turn brought the matter to the attention of building and district administrators. The administrative team immediately began an investigation, contacted police and addressed the concern.

Please be assured that appropriate district supervision was present during breakfast. The district will immediately modify some procedures for the East Hill School community including the following:

• During morning drop off, parents and guardians will be allowed into the front vestibule—through the first set of glass doors. An adult staff member will be in the vestibule to greet students. Only students will be allowed through the second set of glass doors, which will be locked.

• Effective immediately, visitors will no longer be allowed to join students for breakfast or lunch.

While we realize that some parents and other family members will miss the opportunity to join their children in the cafeteria, we feel the change is necessary to help ensure the safety and well-being of our students.

Please be assured that the safety and security of our students is our first priority and district staff will soon have a meeting with East Hill families in regards to ongoing safety actions the district is taking. If you have any questions, please feel free to call my office, and thank you for your continued support in providing a safe educational environment for our students.

In partnership,
Deborah P. Grimshaw
Superintendent of Schools

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