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Mother sues county

Couple was cleared after home-schooling case in 2010

December 27, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

GLEN - A woman charged with child endangerment in 2010 after failing to register her home-schooled children is suing Montgomery County, Sheriff Michael Amato and a former investigator, claiming her constitutional rights were violated.

Margie Cressy filed a lawsuit Dec. 21 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York seeking a jury trial and an unspecified amount of money in damages.

Cressy and her husband, Richard, were charged by Montgomery County sheriff's investigators in January 2010 with four counts each of endangering the welfare of a child after failing to submit a notice of intent to home school to the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District in which they lived for about seven years.

Article Photos

Richard and Margie Cressy stand in front of the Montgomery County Courthouse in May 2010 after their charges were dismissed in Family Court.
The Leader-Herald/ Amanda Metzger

The case garnered national attention. The Cressys faced both the criminal charges and educational neglect charges in Family Court in May 2010, where the charges were dropped. A judge determined the couple filed the paperwork needed to register the children as home-schooled.

According to the complaint, former sheriff's investigator William Gilston had threatened to "make an example" out of the family during the investigation, insulted those who home-schooled their children, and refused to meet the four children when offered the chance to meet them for an interview.

According to the lawsuit, Cressy chose to home-school their children on religious grounds and bought educational material from a Christian publishing company Alpha Omega Publications, which has met state Education recommendations for parents who choose to home school.

In the lawsuit, Cressy claims she told Gilston she thought she had met the filing requirements when she filed a instruction plan several years earlier with the state. Cressy said she was unaware she had to resubmit paperwork after that, the suit says.

Prior to the Cressys' arrest, they had already met with district officials and begun filing necessary paperwork.

According to state home-school regulations, parents must send the school district in which they live a notice of intent to instruct a child at home. Then they must submit an individualized home instruction plan to the district that includes syllabi and curriculum materials, dates for submission of quarterly reports and names of those who provide instruction.

Investigators said in January 2010 the Cressys never submitted any documentation to Fonda-Fultonville or the Gloversville Enlarged School District in which they lived before.

But Margie Cressy said when the couple first started home schooling in Gloversville almost 10 years ago, they did submit the notice of intent and individualized home instruction plan thinking it was a one-time requirement. They moved to Glen about seven years ago, and didn't know they had to resubmit paperwork to the school, Cressy said.

Despite the approval from the school district, Gilston was alleged to have arrested the couple anyway, charging them.

Amato is a defendant in the lawsuit. In the lawsuit, Cressy said Amato made false statements in a letter to the editor published in The Leader-Herald.

"It is alleged that the Cressys knowingly did not file the required paperwork with the local school district for seven years and could not provide adequate proof that the education of their children had taken place," Amato said in a letter dated Jan. 10, 2010.

In the suit, Cressy said that is false.

The lawsuit claims that Cressy's constitutional rights were violated, breaking the fourth and 14th amendments. These amendments protect people from malicious prosecution and says they are entitled to due process and equal protection under the law, respectively.

The husband, Richard Cressy, was not named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Robert Keach III, who represents Margie Cressy, would not comment on the case.

Arthur Cleveland is the Montgomery County reporter. He can be reached at montco@leader-herald.com.

 
 

 

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