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TEACHER FACES NEW CLAIMS TIED TO ALCOHOL

Kenmore West High School teacher Michael P. Herb now faces allegations that he had used an assumed name in March to rent a room in the Lenox Hotel, where he shared beer and other alcoholic drinks with three teenage girls.

The teacher, who is currently on a paid suspension, previously received a summons from Town of Tonawanda police alleging one count of unlawfully dealing with a child.

Police said the girls told them Herb gave two of them beer and Smirnoff's Ice one March evening in a parking lot off Sheridan Drive, but they did not drink any of it in his presence.

Herb, 37, faces three more charges of unlawfully dealing with a child in Buffalo stemming from another incident in March, Buffalo Detective Tom O'Brien said Wednesday.

Buffalo police, he added, acted on information supplied by Town of Tonawanda police.

Police said Herb rented a room in the Lenox Hotel on North Street in Buffalo, as "Arthur Vandelay," a name familiar to many viewers of the now-defunct sitcom "Seinfeld."

The character George Costanza used the pseudonym Arthur Vandelay when he was trying to impress people.

In the Lenox two months ago, Herb drank and provided alcohol to the 17-year-old girls, according to the teens' statements to police. At least one of the girls was a student of Herb, police said.

The girls told police the encounter involved no sexual activity with the teacher.

Herb, a Kenmore resident, has taught social studies in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District for 10 years.

School officials first learned of concerns about his off-campus contacts with students May 7, when some students complained, according to Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch.

By the end of that day, the district had removed him from the classroom and placed him on a paid suspension.

School officials also contacted Town of Tonawanda police, who launched an investigation.

The district is conducting its own inquiry, which should be completed by the end of this school year, Achramovitch said, adding:

"At that point, a determination would be made in terms of where we go with this, and then that would be presented to the Board of Education."

Herb, meanwhile, is scheduled to appear June 13 in Buffalo City Court.

Joseph LaTona, his attorney, said Wednesday he was not aware that his client had been summoned to appear.

"This is news to me," LaTona said. "I understand they were preparing (a summons), but to my knowledge he hasn't received it. We're not going to get to look at these charges until we appear in court on these things."

LaTona declined to comment on the specifics of the case, saying he had not yet received details on the charges.

"We'll appear (in court) and plead not guilty," he said.

e-mail: mpasciak@buffnews.com

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