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Focus narrows in probe of political call

A controversial telephone call during school hours Friday, urging votes for Board of Education President W. Keith McNall's County Legislature bid, apparently came either from Lockport High School or Charles Upson Elementary School, Superintendent Bruce T. Fraser said Wednesday.

McNall's opponent in Tuesday's Republican primary, Legislator Glenn S. Aronow, made an issue of the call after learning of it from the recipient, David Betsch. Aronow trounced McNall in the primary, but McNall has a second chance as the Democratic nominee in the Nov. 8 election.

Fraser said that Ronco Communications, the district's telephone contractor, has reviewed outgoing call menus for all district buildings, and that the phone number from Betsch's mother's house has not been found. However, the system has a limited capacity, Fraser said, and the number of calls made since Friday caused the erasure of that day's records for Upson and the high school.

Fraser said the district will seek phone records for those buildings from Verizon to determine the location of the call. He has instructed district employees that school phones are to be used only for school business or urgent personal calls.

A caller ID screen showed the pro-McNall call came from 478-4800, the general information number at the Board of Education office. However, Fraser said the district uses a trunk line system that diverts outgoing calls to the next available line, so the readout on a caller ID doesn't always accurately show where the call was made.

He said that he called home from his office Monday and that his wife told him their caller ID showed incorrectly that the call was made from Emmet Belknap Middle School.


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