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Monday, December 29, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 2/5/2013

Woman accuses Oregon school board president of threatening her autistic son

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A woman has accused Oregon school board president P.J. Kapfhammer of threatening her adult autistic son during an after-school workout at Clay High School.

P.J. Kapfhammer, who has gained the reputation for raising his voice with his colleagues on the school board, yelled a profanity and threatened to harm Thomas Blachowski, 25, of Oregon, during the confrontation, according to a report filed by Mr. Blachowski's mother, Terrie Blachowski.

The incident occurred between 4:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. Friday while Mr. Blachowski was working out with exercise equipment in the same room being used by members of the baseball team, the report said.

Mr. Blachowski is the honorary manager of the baseball team and routinely works out with the squad, Mrs. Blachowski told police.

Mr. Kapfhammer admitted tonight that the incident happened as reported to police. However, he said the encounter was a misunderstanding that escalated into him yelling out of his concern for the safety of the 50 athletes in the room.

"I would do anything to fix it. There is nothing that I wouldn't do to fix it," he said in an interview before a special school board meeting.

Mr. Kapfhammer was in the high school to attend a wrestling event. He said he was talking to the wrestling coach when he noticed Mr. Blachowski and thought he looked out of place. He said he took steps to learn his identity.

Mr. Kapfhammer said he became concerned when Mr. Blachowski didn't respond to his questions about his name and why he was in the room. Instead, he said Mr. Blachowski said nothing and turned his head away.

"Knowing now what I know, I know exactly why he did that," he said.

Superintendent Michael Zalar said the school board president followed the rules that are given to teachers and staff for encountering unknown individuals on school property.

"There was miscommunication because of that," Mr. Zalar said

Mr. Zalar said he and other school administrators have talked to Mrs. Blachowski about the incident to address her concerns.

"We are trying to work togetherr and give them time and space to process where they are at in this situation," he said.

Oregon police received the complaint on Sunday and went to the high schoool on Monday.

Police said the accusations made by the man and his mother are still under investigation and witnesses still need to be interviewed.

Mr. Zalar said Mr. Blachowski was a special needs student when he attended Clay. He said he became an honorary manager of the baseball team while attending the school and remained in that position after graduating several years ago.

Conflicts arose between Mr. Kapfhammer and other school board members after he took office a year ago.

School board member Diana Gadus accused Mr. Kapfhammer of attempting to intimidate her and using profanity during an outburst at a board policy meeting in February. Mrs. Gadus didn't file a police report.

However, Mr. Kapfhammer denied her accusations, and instead claimed he told her she would likely lose the next election if she continued to vote with then school board President Richard Gabel and other board members on issues.

Mr. Gabel subsequently resigned, and Mr. Kapfhammer was elected president.

When Mr. Kapfhammer was running for election last year, an anonymous mailer was sent to the media and community raising awareness of his misdemeanor criminal record in the 1990s, tax liens, and back child-support payments from a decade ago.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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