Ogdensburg school board approves $15,000 donation from NASCAR figure at center of student controversy
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 11:59 am

By THOMAS LUCKIE III

OGDENSBURG -- The Ogdensburg City School District Board of Education at Monday’s meeting approved two donations from James France totaling $15,000.

A $10,000 unrestricted donation and a $5,000 donation for the district’s athletic program were approved by all board members present at the meeting, in accordance with district policy that states the board should approve or reject all donations received.

France, who is the executive vice president of NASCAR, has been at the center of allegations made by Andrew Ashley, the disgruntled parent of a recently graduated Ogdensburg Free Academy student. Ashley initially addressed the board with concerns that he was being undermined as a parent and left out of the loop on various issues relating to his son at a meeting on Monday, June 5. At that same meeting Ashley questioned the board about an alleged $5,000 donation made by France that had apparently not been officially accepted by the board.

Ashley was not in attendance at the meeting Monday, but has been threatening to sue the school for some time.

Ashley provided NorthCountryNow.com with a notice of claim via email, which describes his intent to seek $17 million in damages stemming from what he calls the inappropriate behavior of Tuttle. The claim is made against the Ogdensburg City School District Board of Education, Cindy Tuttle in her capacity as Principal of Ogdensburg Free Academy and Richard Christy in his capacity as the Guidance Coordinator of Ogdensburg Free Academy for negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In a brief interview following the meeting, Ogdensburg School District Superintendent Timothy Vernsey said there were no updates on the status of the claim or any potential lawsuit stemming from the claim.

The board also approved a donation of $2,201.60 from the Lincoln School Association for the purchase of two benches for John F. Kennedy Elementary School.

Board vice president Michael Myers and board member Laurie Zweifel were not present at Monday’s meeting.