Franklin County parents confront school district about teacher sex charges
FAIRFAX, Vt. (WCAX) - Franklin West Supervisory Union administrators faced angry, emotional parents saying the district didn’t do enough to protect their children from the sixth-grade teacher accused of sexually assaulting a young student for years.
Matthew Toof, 39, is charged with aggravated sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. He is currently being held without bail.
School board members, Interim Superintendent John Tague, Georgia Middle School Principal Julie Conrad and parents of students in the district met for an emergency meeting Sunday night.
“I don’t trust you, or you, or you, or you, or you, or you,” Julie Taylor said, addressing the administrators.
Taylor has children currently attending Georgia Elementary and Middle School and a 17-year-old who had Toof as a teacher.
“One of the things that she’s told me over the years is that he’s very intimidating and mean to children,” Taylor explained.
Court documents allege Toof sexually assaulted a teenage girl several times over the last six years, beginning when the victim was 11 years old.
“I feel scared for all the kids that are still in the school and could be subjected to this,” Heather Grimm said during the meeting.
Grimm says Toof also taught three of her children.
“My 17-year-old daughter was in that class and witnessed a lot of things that she felt were questionable and she didn’t feel safe to say anything,” Grimm told WCAX News.
Over the course of the nearly two-hour public forum, dozens of parents in the district voiced their concerns and demanded accountability. About 10 parents showed up in person and another 40 attended via Zoom.
According to the affidavit, the abuse started under the former administration, which parents say covered up complaints.
“Frank Calano protected Matt Toof and all of his bullying, horrible behavior. I could not wait for my kids to get out of Georgia,” one parent said.
WCAX News reached out to former Georgia Middle School Principal Frank Calano for a comment, but we had not yet heard back when this story was published.
Parents proposed several changes the district should make, including counseling from a third party. They also suggested staff who knew about or suspected the abuse should take responsibility.
Parents also argue the Department for Children and Families failed the district back in 2016, dismissing complaints from individuals who weren’t the victim.
“When I made my reports about him, I felt like it was going on deaf ears,” Grimm said.
Current Middle School Principal Julie Conrad said, “We make those communications on a regular basis any time we have anything that looks suspicious.”
With tears in her eyes, Conrad acknowledged the seriousness of the situation saying, “We need to get better as a system to make sure that we have it, and that’s going to be our work next.”
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