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ORCHARD PARK SCHOOL BOARD WAS RIGHT TO HIRE ATTORNEY FOR PROBE

A recent editorial questioned the Orchard Park Central School District's expending money to have a complaint against a board member investigated by an attorney.

The News says the district attorney's office could have investigated this complaint without charge. The complaint was from an attorney for a citizen claiming that James Crean retaliated against her for having made a statement at a board meeting with which he disagreed. It alleged that he violated one of the board's policies.

Because the claim raised a significant issue about whether the district could be found civilly liable for breaching the duty to protect the First Amendment rights of someone appearing before the board, we believed that the investigation should be conducted by an attorney with that kind of litigation experience. The News editorial has not convinced us to the contrary.

School administrators are not qualified to conduct investigations concerning issues of constitutional law. The district attorney's office would likely have done a fine investigation, but would not have been in a position to defend the district against any claims, nor prosecute a disciplinary action under the Education Law against the board member should that have been necessary.

Incidentally, neither Crean nor Mike Dillon resigned because the district elected to undertake the investigation.

Joseph F. Bieron

President

Orchard Park Board of Education