Saratoga County

Saratoga school board leader quits after arrest

The president of the Saratoga Springs Board of Education resigned Tuesday after being arrested the d
Chip Locke speaks to Saratoga Springs City Schools Board of Education member Joanne Kiernan after being sworn in as president, Jan. 8, 2015.
Chip Locke speaks to Saratoga Springs City Schools Board of Education member Joanne Kiernan after being sworn in as president, Jan. 8, 2015.

The president of the Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education resigned Tuesday after being accused earlier in the day of stealing nearly $10,000 from the Greenfield Elementary School Home/School Association, the school’s parent-teacher organization.

The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday morning announced the arrest of Charles “Chip” Locke of Porters Corners on felony charges of third-degree grand larceny and first-degree falsifying business records, and shortly afterward the school district announced that Locke had resigned from the Board of Education, of which he became president in January. In addition to being school board president, Locke was treasurer of the Home/School Association, which is at the elementary school his children attended.

Locke, 42, of North Greenfield Road, was arrested after the Sheriff’s Office said it was contacted Monday by members of the Home/School Association, who reported that several thousand dollars was missing from HSA accounts.

Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo said an investigation revealed that over the past year, Locke had stolen $9,973.82 from the organization’s accounts. Zurlo said Locke then falsified business documents in an effort to cover up the money that had been taken. The charges are potentially serious enough to send Locke to state prison if he is convicted.

Locke was arraigned in Wilton Town Court and released without bail pending an Oct. 6 court appearance. Zurlo said the school district and the HSA were both fully cooperative with the investigation.

Locke, who described himself as a “stay-at-home dad” with a background in restaurant management when he ran for the school board in 2011, was previously president of the HSA.

Locke’s phone went unanswered Wednesday and he did not respond to an email seeking comment. The 1991 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School attended the University of New Haven and has two children who attend district schools, he has said previously.

In a statement, the school district said Locke resigned from the board “for reasons unrelated to his position on the board.”

“Mr. Locke was an asset to the board and his leadership will be missed,” said Michael Piccirillo, the district’s superintendent.

The statement said the board has not yet decided who will lead it next, or how the vacancy created on the nine-member board will be filled.

“I want to assure the community that the board will continue to focus on our core mission to provide an excellent educational experience for all our children,” said board Vice President Joanne Kiernan.

Within an hour of the statement’s release, information on Locke as a five-year school board member and board president had already been removed from the district’s website.

Locke was elevated from vice president to board president in January following the resignation of Ernest Gailor in December amid controversy. Gailor said publicly that he was forced out for having criticized Piccirillo’s leadership of the district, and cited Locke among his critics.

Locke’s arrest was the second piece of bad news in as many days for the 6,400-student district, which was criticized in a state comptroller’s audit released Monday for having a computerized grade-tracking system that allowed student grades to be changed after the fact without proper documentation. Piccirillo said the district plans to correct the problem, which the audit also found exists in all six school districts it sampled across the state.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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