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Spitzer pleads guilty to reduced charge, school board issues statement

April 28, 2016
By A.J. Rao and Katrina Fuller ( , Westfield Republican

BUSTI - Ben Spitzer, Chautauqua Lake Central School superintendent, pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired Wednesday in Busti Justice Court.

Spitzer, who was pulled over on East Fairmount Avenue on Feb. 26, was originally charged with driving while intoxicated and DWI per se.

His attorney, Andrew S. Robinson Jr., said the district attorney's office offered to amend the charges to a driving while ability impaired violation - a non-criminal offense.

"Despite the valid defenses I thought we could still pursue, Mr. Spitzer decided that he wanted to use this as a teaching experience, not only for his students and his faculty, but the community," Robinson said. "He decided to accept responsibility for his actions and accept the assistant district attorney's offer."

The court imposed a $500 fine and $260 mandatory surcharge on Spitzer. His license was also suspended for 90 days.

In a statement released Friday, the Chautauqua Lake Central School Board supported its superintendent.

When The Jamestown Post-Journal requested a statement from the Chautauqua Lake Central School Board regarding Spitzer's recent court appearance, the district responded with the following statement and requested that it be printed in its entirety as written:


The Chautauqua Lake Central School Board understands and acknowledges the gravity of our Superintendent's conduct on February 21; so does he.

As we attempted to draft our official response, and struggled to convey our thoughts and beliefs, we turned to those in history who faced far more challenging issues, but whose words ring true no matter the scale of the issue at hand.

"I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and retrace my steps." - Mahatma Gandhi.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King (Jr.)

"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies." - Martin Luther King (Jr.)

The CLCS Board of Education, under the leadership of Benjamin Spitzer, will continue to do the best job we can. That job is to provide the best educational opportunities we can muster for the children of our region. Superintendent Spitzer has been a driving force in our region to help all of us achieve this lofty goal. He will continue to lead our efforts to do the best by our children into the future.

Sometimes the results of bad decisions leave no opportunity to learn one's true measure. Superintendent Spitzer made a grave mistake, he owned up to it, has paid dearly for it, and will be drawing upon it to convey the experience to our Chautauqua Lake "family": that good people can make bad choices in life. It is how they conduct themselves after doing so, which is the true measure of who they are.

Board of Education

Chautauqua Lake Central School District


Also, on the school's website at, the superintendent released a statement which reads:

Dear Chautauqua Lake Community,

As has been well documented in the local media, on Sunday, February 21, 2016, I was arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), a misdemeanor. On Wednesday, April 20, 2016, I accepted a plea of guilty to Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), a violation. During that period of time, legal counsel advised me that I could pursue a valid legal defense against the original charge. However, I decided not to pursue that defense and to accept the plea, taking full responsibility for my actions.

My actions on February 21st reflected poor judgment that I deeply regret, and I offer no excuses. I intend to fully complete all the requirements assigned to me as a result of this matter. While I cannot predict the future, I can predict what will not happen in the future. I will never again make the choice I made that day.

In closing, I want to express my sincere appreciation for the support and understanding that I have received during this time frame.

Ben Spitzer, Superintendent

Chautauqua Lake Central School District



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