School board president responds to abuse allegations - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

School board president responds to abuse allegations

Oregon School Board President PJ Kapfhammer answered allegations that he verbally abused a former autistic student in a weight room.

Kapfhammer admitted there was a confrontation February 1, when he was at Clay High School for a track tournament. He said he noticed a man in the weight room with about 50 students.

"I walked up to him, asked him who he was," Kapfhammer explained.

He said the man never answered him.

"I never touched him. I never raised my hands toward him," Kapfhammer said. "I was close, I was in his personal space. I was making sure I was…between him and the kids."

The man was 25-year-old Thomas Blachowski, honorary manager of the Clay baseball team. Blachowski's mother said he is autistic, and told police Kapfhammer screamed at Blachowski, and said he, "needs his butt kicked" – but in a more profane way.

She wants justice for her son, but Kapfhammer said he had no idea Blachowski was allowed in the weight room, or that he was autistic.

"I feel horrible," he said. "The last thing I want to do is put anybody in that position, especially someone with disabilities that didn't understand what was going on around him."

During Kapfhammer's 2011 school board campaign, he was accused of having been arrested several times. He said there was only one assault conviction when he was 18. Now Superintendent Mike Zalar said the latest incident was a misunderstanding.

"Mr. Kapfhammer did follow our school safety protocols," Zalar said. "When you see somebody in a building that you don't recognize, our protocol is that you ask them to identify themselves."

Kapfhammer said he's confident the police won't file criminal charges against him, and Zalar isn't sure if the school board even has the authority to discipline him.

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