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Lockport middle school principal faces child endangerment charges

LOCKPORT – North Park Middle School Principal James A. Snyder was arrested Tuesday on two misdemeanor charges of child endangerment in the wake of alleged incidents during a pool party at his home last month to celebrate his daughter’s birthday.

Lockport City School District officials would not say whether Snyder, 45, of Irving Street, Lockport, had been suspended or placed on leave in the wake of the charges, which accused him of kissing a middle-school age girl on the shoulder while brushing her hair as she sat in his lap, and of throwing a plastic bottle at his daughter.

Snyder, reached by phone Friday, refused to comment on the case. He said he would have his lawyer, whom he did not identify, call a reporter, but no call was received.

Lisa M. Schrader, Lockport’s assistant superintendent for personnel, said privacy and personnel policies prevented her from commenting on the case.

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Redacted court documents obtained by The Buffalo News included several statements signed by girls who were guests at Snyder’s home for a pool party with Snyder’s daughter and other kids. The arrest report says the date of the incident was July 16, but at least one witness statement uses the following Saturday, July 23, as the date.

One girl started her statement by saying Snyder’s daughter “said her dad had something happen a while ago and he was off his medications.”

Another girl told detectives that after she exited the pool, Snyder beckoned her over to where he was sitting. “He grabbed me and sat me on his knee,” her statement says. He said Snyder started brushing her hair.

“I could tell he was drinking beer because he smelled,” the girl told police. She said when Snyder brushed her hair, it would pull her back toward him, and she tried to prevent that by bracing herself with her foot.

“I was getting very uncomfortable and he then kissed my hair and I pulled away. He then pulled me back and kissed the back of my shoulder. I then said, ‘My mom will finish brushing the rest of my hair.’ He then said, ‘Hey, sexy,’ to me.”

The girl said a person whose name was blacked out called Snyder’s parents, and Snyder’s mother took him away from the home for a time, while Snyder’s father watched the kids.

On Snyder’s return, the girl’s statement said, Snyder “was mad and threw a plastic bottle at (his daughter) and said, ‘Go back and live with your mother! Go to hell!’ ”

The statement says a neighbor then took the crowd of kids next door. Later on, Snyder’s parents came over and “told all the kids to tell our parents that (Snyder) is sick and not drunk.”

Three other girls told police that they saw the girl on Snyder’s lap, and two said they saw him throw plastic bottles.

The mother of the girl who was kissed gave police a statement that indicated her daughter told her the same story she gave to detectives. Three other girls who were at the party gave statements saying they saw the first girl on Snyder’s lap, and two said they also saw him throw plastic bottles.

Schrader said the district expected all employees to maintain “appropriate” behavior and added, “The district is committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to assist the safety and welfare of district students.”

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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