Hamburg School Board again holds misconduct hearing in private - The Buffalo News

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Hamburg School Board again holds misconduct hearing in private

The Hamburg Central School Board shut the public and the news media out of another session Wednesday that may result in the removal from office of one of its own members.

The board members now have spent more than seven hours in closed door sessions, and have at least four more sessions scheduled in the proceeding.

The board shut the public and the media out of the Hamburg Administration building for a second straight night Wednesday while it heard the charges against Catherine Schraugh Forcucci in private.

The board majority charged her with being confrontational and interfering with its ability to do its job.

“If it was typical behavior, we wouldn’t be here,” said Andrew Freedman, the board’s attorney, following Wednesday’s session that lasted nearly four hours.

The board scheduled more hearings at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday, Thursday and June 6 and 11.

The board members invited newly-elected member Cameron Hall into the closed door hearing Wednesday.

Hall agreed not to tell anyone what happened during the hearing, which was held on official misconduct charges the board filed against Schrauth Forcucci.

Earlier Wednesday evening, Schrauth Forcucci pleaded not guilty in Hamburg Village Court to charges that she harassed Boston Valley Elementary School Principal James Martinez on Feb. 11. She was charged with second-degree harassment for an incident that occurred as the board was walking to a classroom to go into an executive session to interview then-interim Superintendent Richard Jetter.

Martinez accused Schrauth Forcucci of repeatedly screaming at him while they were in a second floor hallway. Four board members, another principal, Jetter and Jetter’s wife filed supporting depositions. Martinez had filed an internal complaint of a hostile work environment against Schrauth Forcucci and two other board members, and had been told not to have contact with them. Schrauth Forcucci was upset that Martinez had accompanied board members to the meeting room.

Margaret Murphy, the lawyer for Schrauth Forcucci, said she would seek to move the case out of Hamburg to a neighboring court.

The incident is one of several in which the School Board accuses Schrauth Forcucci of berating and/or orally attacking several school district employees, including the superintendent and his secretary.

As the board voted to go into executive session again Wednesday night, Schrauth Forcucci voted no, because she wanted the hearing to be held in public.

The board wanted Hall to sit in on the hearing in case it goes beyond June 30, when Board Member Holly Balaya’s term ends. The board discussed whether to allow Hall to sit in, and board member Sally Stephenson said although she had wanted the hearing open to the public, she wanted assurances that Hall would not divulge what went on at the confidential hearing.

“I do understand the confidentiality of these proceedings and will honor that confidentiality,” Hall said.

Murphy, who said she and her client have no problem with Hall being present, said every minute the board spends discussing the item makes it more likely that the hearing will last into July, and Hall will need to consider the charges with the board.

Andrew J. Freedman, the district’s attorney, said the proceeding is not a regular executive session, but is quasi-judicial and is an exception from the state’s Open Meetings Law.


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