UPDATE: We have been notified that the charges in this story against the Superintendent have been dropped by the court. An updated article with that information is available here.
HORNELL, N.Y. (WETM) – The Hornell City School District Superintendent and the Assistant Principal for Grades 7-8 have both been indicted on various misconduct and child endangerment charges by the Steuben County Grand Jury, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Jeremy Palotti, Superintendent of the Hornell City School District, was indicted by the Grand Jury on June 1 on two misdemeanor Official Misconduct charges and one count of Failing to Report Child Abuse, according to court documents.
The indictment stemmed from an investigation into allegations surrounding Palotti’s handling of a parent’s complaints in the 2021-2022 academic year, relating to improper searches of a female student by School Administrators. Palotti was also accused of allegedly using taxpayer money to engage the school district’s attorney in an investigation of personal legal matters.
Palotti was also indicted on one count of Failing to Make a Required Report to the NYS Child Abuse Hotline. Court documents alleged that Palotti was aware of suspected child abuse or maltreatment in October 2021 and failed to report it to the State, as required by state law.
Assistant Principal Eli Marcus—now on administrative leave—was also indicted on 10 counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (all class-A misdemeanors). T Marcus allegedly acted in a way “likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of 10 different children” under 17. The incidents allegedly happened at various times in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years.
Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker said the charges stem from a report first called into the Department of Social Services about alleged child abuse or maltreatment. The case was then referred to the Hornell City Police Department before the Grand Jury conducted an independent investigation.
Palotti and Marcus will appear for arraignment in the Steuben County Court at a later date.
The Hornell City School District Board of Education issued the following statement in response to the indictments:
We are both surprised and shocked that criminal charges have been filed against the District’s Superintendent of Schools and our Assistant High School Principal. From what we understand about the surrounding circumstances, these charges are not justified, and we urge everyone to remember that anyone charged with a crime is presumed to be innocent until proven otherwise. We have, of course, reported these charges to the Superintendent of the BOCES Supervisory District and to the State Education Department. For the time being, Mr. Marcus will continue to be on administrative leave, and the Superintendent will continue performing his regular duties. Out of respect for the criminal process, and in the interest of the privacy of all concerned, we will have no further comment at this time.Hornell CSD Board of Education, June 1, 2022