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Principal faces a leave over domestic case

The principal of Buffalo's Bennett High School is expected to be placed on paid administrative leave soon while he contests charges that he assaulted his wife during a domestic dispute last month.

David Mauricio, 38, of Grand Island, faces misdemeanor charges of assault, criminal mischief, menacing, unlawful imprisonment and weapons possession from an Aug. 4 incident in which he allegedly pinned his wife to the floor and punched her in the back of the head.

Mauricio also is accused of attempting to cut off his wife's clothing with a kitchen knife, according to court papers.

He has pleaded not guilty, and Grand Island Town Judge Mark J. Frentzel on Wednesday set further proceedings for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 30.

Mauricio, who remains free on his own recognizance, was on duty at Bennett on Thursday, said Julie A. Rogers, his attorney.

However, sources said the charges were discussed Wednesday evening by the Buffalo Board of Education in closed-door executive session, and it became clear that Superintendent James A. Williams intends to place Mauricio on paid administrative leave until the case is resolved.

It is likely that there will be a disposition in the case Sept. 30, Rogers said.

"I'm pretty confident the facts are going to show that my client is innocent of the charges," she said. "I have no intention of [seeking a plea deal] in this case."

Frentzel has issued an order of protection directing Mauricio to stay away from his wife, said Kristin A. St. Mary, chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau in the Erie County district attorney's office.

Mauricio, who was previously principal at Buffalo's Lorraine Elementary School, was appointed principal at Bennett last summer.

Widely viewed by Board of Education members as a bright, capable young administrator, he was given the task of improving student achievement at one of the city's low-performing high schools.

e-mail: psimon@buffnews.com

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