The father of a North Bellmore elementary school student was arraigned on menacing and harassment charges Wednesday after making a threat during a parent-teacher conference, police and school officials said.
Anthony Desena, 54, of North Bellmore, denied threatening anyone during the meeting Tuesday, but said he uttered a "stupid" remark to the teacher about someone as he recounted an incident that took place five years earlier.
He declined to repeat his remark, but said he shook hands with the teacher before leaving, voted at the polls in the school and then went home, where he got a call from police.
"I said something stupid, not crazy stupid, and they took it to an absurd level," Desena said about school officials' complaint. "This isn't right. They make you out to be John Gotti."
The incident occurred at a parent-teacher meeting at John G. Dinkelmeyer Elementary School, police said.
North Bellmore Superintendent Marie Testa said the parent made a comment to the teacher -- considered a threat -- that was "definitely directed toward the principal," Faith Skelos.
The teacher told Skelos, who alerted her, Testa said.
The superintendent said she emailed district parents about the situation and visited the school Wednesday to ensure there was no fallout.
"There was no imminent danger," Testa said. She declined to discuss specifics, but said the parent has been barred from the district's grounds.
Desena was released on $5,000 cash bail after arraignment on third-degree menacing, a misdemeanor, and second-degree harassment, a violation, authorities said. An order of protection was filed against him.
Desena said he was going to fight the allegations but regrets his remark.
"In hindsight . . . I shouldn't ever have said that, not that I said anything crazy, like I was going to kill the world," he said. "I will apologize to everybody in the school if I have to. I'm not a criminal, an animal. We all make stupid statements at one time or another."