SUNBURY — Chelsea Clinton reached out to a Sunbury family through social media Wednesday after learning a middle school teacher admitted he intentionally misaddressed a letter their 11-year-old daughter had written to her mother, Hillary Clinton.
The name the Shikellamy School District teacher, Benjamin Attinger, wrote on the envelope read: HILIAR RODHAM CLINTON — misspelling the former presidential candidate's first name to include the word "liar" in it.
While the story on Wednesday spread throughout national news sources and even reached the Clinton family, 11-year-old Mary Reinard spent the day at classes and after-school programs without any idea what was happening. When Mary returned home at 6 p.m. and her stepmother shared with her the latest news, the sixth-grade student was nearly in tears.
"I'm excited, I'm very excited, I'm more than excited," Mary Reinard said. "I can't think of a word right now. I'm nervous and excited." She paused and made up her own word to describe her emotions. "I'm nervi-cided."
She added, "I feel like I'm going to cry right now."
When Chelsea Clinton learned of the story on Wednesday, she tweeted out the message to her followers: "If anyone knows how to reach Mary Reinard’s parents, please let them know I’m happy to hand-deliver Mary’s letter to my mom @HillaryClinton." The Daily Item contacted Mary's stepmother, Shannon Reinard, to help facilitate the online meeting.
Clinton and Reinard spoke via Twitter using direct messages. They confirmed that the letter with the corrected address was sent out on Friday and Clinton told her they would be "looking out for it."
"Please thank Mary for her courage," Chelsea Clinton wrote to her via Twitter.
Parents don't want teacher fired
Mary's parents — Shannon Reinard, 35, and her husband, Shawn, 38 — were both upset over the situation but met with Attinger and school officials on Tuesday. They accepted his apology and want no repercussions other than making sure he doesn't do something like that again.
"I want everyone to know I have accepted Mr. Attinger's apology and I do not want him fired," Shannon Reinard said. "I had a meeting with him and I felt I wanted to get the story out there for Mary's sake. What happened was wrong and I don't believe he (Attinger) would do this again."
The issue started last week when Mary found a story on the internet about Hillary Clinton possibly speaking to the dead. There have been reports over the years of Hillary Clinton imagining she is speaking with historical figures like Eleanor Roosevelt as a therapeutic release.
Having lost a baby sister nearly a decade ago, Mary wanted to know if it was true and asked Attinger for assistance in writing the letter.
Mary wrote the letter. She and Attinger, who had said he'd get the right address, put it in an envelope with the return address of Shikellamy Middle School. Friday, when Mary brought the letter home to be mailed, Shannon Reinard noticed the misspelling and called the school.
Attinger later left her a voicemail admitting he did it as a joke between him and Mary. Shannon Reinard provided a recording of that voicemail to The Daily Item.
"When I addressed it, I put liar in the name because I was telling her it (talking to the dead) wasn't true," Attinger said in the voicemail. "It was kind of a joke. I didn't really expect it to be taken the way that apparently she took it. I apologize."
Officials from Shikellamy School District have refused comment on the situation. Superintendent Brett Misavage was asked twice on Wednesday, before Chelsea Clinton's tweet and after, but still declined comment.
"I appreciate The Daily Item listening to me and looking into this," Shannon Reinard said. "I got the word out there and that is all we wanted to do and and no one should lose their job. I do not want to drag anyone through the mud."
Justin Strawser and Francis Scarcella write for The (Sunbury) Daily Item, which, like The Meadville Tribune, is owned by CNHI.