Teacher addresses student letter to 'Hiliar' Clinton

Mary Reinard, 11, and her stepmother Shannon Reinard, hold up an envelope addressed to "Hiliar" Rodham Clinton. The envelope for Mary Reinard's letter to Clinton was addressed by her teacher.

SUNBURY — A Sunbury family called for a public apology on Tuesday from a Shikellamy Middle School teacher who admits he intentionally misaddressed a letter their 11-year-old daughter had written to Hillary Clinton.

The address the 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.

Sixth-grade student Mary Reinard said she wanted to write the letter because Clinton was her hero.

Shannon Reinard, 35, and her husband Shawn, 38, are upset that politics entered the classroom. Shannon and her daughter met with Attinger and school officials on Tuesday.

"We met and he (Attinger) said he was sorry to Mary and she and I accepted it, but again I just wanted people to know what happened here," Shannon Reinard said. 

The issue started last week when Mary found a story on the internet about Clinton possibly speaking to the dead. There have been reports over the years of 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. When Mary brought the letter home to be mailed, Shannon Reinard noticed the misspelling and called the school last Friday.

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."

Attinger did not respond to calls from The Daily Item on Tuesday.

"He can write a letter himself and call her a liar," Shannon Reinard said. "Don't channel it through my 11-year-old daughter."

Shawn Reinard said he originally saw humor in the letter, but noticed how upset Mary was and immediately changed his tune.

"I'm angry," Shawn Reinard said. "Whether I agree or not, you keep that out of school. His student asked him for help, and he failed as a teacher. At minimum, he owes my little girl a public apology."

Shawn Reinard said he didn't vote in the presidential election but said he would have supported Trump. Shannon Reinard said she voted for Clinton.

Clinton was routinely classified as a liar by President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race. 

Mary Reinard said she didn't notice the misspelling and dreads the thought that the letter might have gone out as it was.

"I would have felt embarrassed," she said. "I wouldn't have been able to go to school for a week."

She said Attinger has always been a nice teacher and she likes him. 

Mary said she "loves" Clinton because she's a woman who ran for president and views her as brave and courageous. Her letter, appropriately addressed to Clinton, was sent Friday.

Shannon Reinard said she posted the picture of the original envelope to social media on Friday to alert her friends. She also reached out to middle school principal Mary Murphy-Kahn, who she said told her she would speak to Attinger.

Attinger then called Shannon Reinard and left the voicemail.

On Tuesday, she received a call from the district asking her to come in for a meeting. The Reinard family met with Attinger, District Superintendent Brett Misavage and Murphy-Kahn Tuesday afternoon, Shannon Reinard said.

Misavage said he could not comment on personnel issues but confirmed a meeting took place with the Reinard family Tuesday. 

The Daily Item has reached out to representatives of Hillary Clinton, but had not gotten a response by Tuesday night. 

Email Justin Strawser at jstrawser@dailyitem.com and Francis Scarcella at fscarcella@dailyitem.com. Follow them on Twitter @JustinLStrawser and @scarcella11.