Share this article

print logo

School Board acts to restrict activities of Olka following her arrest

The Tonawanda School Board stripped member Elizabeth Olka of all responsibilities except sitting at the meeting and voting. She was restricted from participating on any committees and groups aside from the full board.

The action, which came during a regular board meeting, is pending the results of an in-house investigation of her recent actions that led to her arrest three weeks ago.

Olka, 32, was arrested and charged with second-degree aggravated harassment and fourth-degree stalking March 4.

The alleged victim is the 23-year-old daughter of the board's vice president, James Weber, who said the two were co-workers who became friends before a falling-out last summer.

Attending her first board meeting since the arrest, Olka fought to retain her full status within the district but failed to persuade enough board members and lost a 4-3 vote.

Board President Lynn Casal, Weber and board members Joyce Hogenkamp and Jennifer Mysliwy approved the measure.

"I look at this resolution as a resolution of guilt," said board member Augustine Beyer, who opposed the measure with Sharon Stuart and Olka. "I don't think this is right, and I don't support it."

The school district's attorney, Chris Trapp, emphasized that the move should not be considered disciplinary and that Olka was still a voting member of the School Board.

Because the resolution only affected unpaid appointments within the district, Trapp said there was nothing prohibiting Olka and Weber from voting on the resolution.

However, Olka still argued against language in the resolution that referred to her as a "continued disruption" and whether she could continue to function all of her duties effectively. She hoped the board would support an amendment to change the language, but the board members who moved for the original resolution were unmoved.

"To mention [me] as a continuous disruption implies that I've always been disruptive," she said.

Olka also disputed taking her off the district's budget advisory team, which is currently working through the 2010-11 school year budget with the School Board.

However, Casal said Olka could still sit in the audience during the session and could ask questions of district officials.

"I was elected to the board to discuss budget issues," Olka said.

"As a community member, I'm telling you I can't stop you from coming to the meetings," Casal told Olka.

The district is currently conducting its own investigation of the case, and Trapp said it is proceeding. He suggested the board's action Tuesday was the extent of what it could do at this point.

"You cannot simply suspend a board member from carrying on their duties without due process," he said.

There are no comments - be the first to comment