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Lockport continues to bar middle school principal

Fourteen months after a jury rejected child endangerment charges against a junior high school principal, the Lockport City School District continues to bar him from working.

Both the district and an attorney for North Park Junior High School principal James A. Snyder were unwilling to divulge details, but both said talks are continuing.

The district is paying Snyder $120,252 a year not to work at North Park, and it also is paying Bernadette Smith $113,670 a year to handle Snyder's job. Smith was made acting principal last July.

Snyder, 47, has collected about $200,000 since being placed on paid leave in August 2016, when Lockport police charged him with misconduct at his daughter's 12th birthday party, held at Snyder's Lockport home on July 16, 2016.

Snyder was accused of brushing an 11-year-old girl's hair, kissing her on the shoulder and calling her "sexy."

He was was accused of yelling at his daughter and throwing a plastic bottle at her. A police officer testified that Snyder appeared to be drunk.

After a seven-day trial in February 2017, a six-member jury in North Tonawanda City Court took half an hour to find Snyder not guilty of two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child. The case was moved there after both Lockport City Court judges recused themselves.

Niagara County Child Protective Services also has expunged all allegations against Snyder, according to one of his attorneys, Michele G. Bergevin.

Lisa M. Schrader, assistant superintendent for personnel, said in an email to The Buffalo News that the district is working on settling the matter, but offered no details.

"The fact that Mr. Snyder remains on paid administrative leave does not mean that the district is not engaging in any regular and continued efforts to resolve the issues surrounding Mr. Snyder. This is as much as we can share at this time due to confidentiality and legal considerations," Schrader wrote.

Bergevin, who is working on the issue with fellow attorney William D. Berard III, said they are trying to settle the issue.

"There are ongoing negotiations," Bergevin said Tuesday.

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