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BOARD BEGINS SEARCH FOR SUPERINTENDENT

Much against the wishes of Superintendent Richard Sagar's supporters in the West Seneca School District, the School Board is going ahead with initial steps to find his replacement by bringing in a professional search consultant.

"The entire process is not needed," said Howard Avnet, Sagar's sole supporter on the board.

The board will be using a timeline set forth by the State School Board Association to have the new superintendent in place.

Sagar is being forced out of his post after an investigation in May into some teachers' complaints they were harassed, even though formal charges were never brought against him.

"They (the board) don't like him. That's why he is being forced off. He didn't grant tenure to certain people, and now they have turned on him," Mary Sagar, the superintendent's wife, told The Buffalo News. "The investigation cleared him completely, so what is the deal?"

After some heated discussion Monday night, Avnet told the board, "I think you all should resign," and he left the meeting.

"I am concerned that we are crucifying the superintendent for nothing," said Lenore Wilson of Weatherstone Drive. "Is there anything worse than the destruction of someone's life?"

"We need to have an independent investigation done to make the public understand -- to be assured that our students are in good hands with this board," said Sagar supporter Tom Hebert. "To do nothing and not clear the air only breeds public contempt and leaves the door open for nasty rumors that are destroying this school. Public awareness is growing and you (the board) have to start doing the right thing."

After that comment, the board recessed and then returned with a statement.

"Due to privacy issues, our response to the public has been limited. Our responses have not satisfied a number of individuals who believe we acted unfairly toward Dr. Sagar on this matter," said board President David Smaczniak/

He said that Sagar was given a statement of the investigation findings and that the investigation found no illegal conduct on his part.

"He was also told that the board has lost confidence in his leadership," said Smaczniak.

He said, after questioning more than 30 teachers and administrators, that there were numerous instances of conduct on Sagar's part that is "inconsistent with our expectations."

"It is being said that Dr. Sagar is being punished and that he is being banned from entering classrooms. The agreement we reached is not punishment. It is an agreement that this board intends to abide by," the board president said.

He said the board reacted not only to matters revealed in the investigation, but also "on the basis of its own conclusion that the future of the district would not be best served with Dr. Sagar's continued employment."

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