Petition in Hamburg asks State Ed to remove two from School Board - The Buffalo News
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Petition in Hamburg asks State Ed to remove two from School Board

Hamburg lawyer Daniel J. Chiacchia has filed a petition with the state education commissioner to remove Sally A. Stephenson and Holly A. Balaya from the Hamburg Central School Board.

Chiacchia said Stephenson and her daughter, Balaya, had a conflict of interest that they did not disclose before voting last week on seeking a new attorney for the school district and providing legal representation for the former board president and superintendent in a complaint filed against them.

Both deny that any conflict exists.

Chiacchia, who is a leader of a parents group that is circulating petitions to remove Stephenson, Balaya and another board member, cites in his petition “repeated and intentional violations of the law, district policies, and the district code of ethics.”

The petition discusses the two recent votes, as well as a host of alleged improprieties dating back several years.

Board members voted Nov. 12 to put out a request for proposals for new legal representation. Stephenson voted against it and Balaya was in favor. The board hired attorney James D. Tresmond on July 2 to be the attorney for the district.

The board also voted on an identical vote to provide legal representation for former board President Joan G. Calkins and former Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch in a complaint filed with the state Division of Human Rights.

Teacher Martha Kavanaugh filed the complaint against the district over a letter to the community by Calkins that was posted on the district website last year. The letter announced the board’s intention to sue Kavanaugh, Stephenson and Stephenson’s daughter Lindsey, a former teacher, saying they “repeatedly released a recording” or a transcript of a School Board executive session conducted in 2010. The complaint was amended recently to add Calkins and Achramovitch as respondents.

Chiacchia alleges that Stephenson has a close personal relationship with Tresmond that she should have disclosed.

He also said that the Stephensons were mentioned negatively in the Calkins letter and that Lindsey Stephenson is the domestic partner of Kavanaugh.

He said that both Sally Stephenson and Balaya, because she is Stephenson’s daughter, should have disclosed those points.

Stephenson denied any conflict. She said she does not see Tresmond and his wife socially, although she knows his wife through work and attended two functions with her.

She also said that her daughter Lindsey is single and lives with her when she is in Western New York.

Stephenson said Chiacchia is trying to get even with her for filing a complaint with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct that resulted in Chiacchia’s law partner, Andrew P. Fleming, being admonished.

“It’s just retaliatory. He’s going to get even,” she said of Chiacchia.

Balaya also denies she has a conflict.

“This is a document trying to court public opinion,” Balaya said. “My voting record proves I don’t have a conflict.”

Chiacchia contended that “they should have disclosed it, and they should have recused themselves.”


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