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Deja vu on vote to terminate superintendent's contract

The news that the Board of Education is going to meet today to consider initial proceedings toward terminating Superintendent James A. Williams' contract seems, well, rather familiar.

It almost happened last week.

Last Tuesday, the board sent out a notice that it would meet at noon last Wednesday to discuss "personnel matters." Translation: Paragraph 16D in Williams' contract, which lays out the "no fault" procedure for terminating his contract.

But that didn't last long.

In less than three hours, that meeting was canceled because of “conflicting schedules of board members.”

Later in the day Wednesday, the board held a marathon session -- nearly seven hours of committee meeting and regular meeting, with about two hours of executive session thrown in there. During that two-hour stretch behind closed doors, the board apparently talked about Williams' contract, among other things. Williams told me later he had not been in that executive session -- and when a superintendent is not with his or her board in executive session, that generally means one thing.

Board President Ralph Hernandez took the unusual and unprecedented step during that closed-door meeting of clearing the press out of the waiting room off the board room, and posting security guards there to keep us away.

Note for the record: There were only eight of the nine board members there that night. North District rep Jason McCarthy was apparently out of town that evening.

The way that night ended -- when it did finally end, at nearly 11 p.m. -- was with no public vote on Williams' contract.

It looks like someone on the board is determined to make that vote happen, though.

Today at noon, the board is scheduled once again to consider that termination clause in his contract.

Those who support Williams say it would be ridiculous for the board to force him out early, seeing as he's already announced plans to retire in June 2012.

Others say the district will not benefit from having a lame duck superintendent for a full year.

Which way will this go?

Find out at noon, when you can follow a live blog of the board meeting here at the School Zone.

- Mary Pasciak

E-mail me at mpasciak@buffnews.com or follow me on Follow  SchoolZoneBlog on Twitter Twitter. Check out the Buffalo News' education page at www.buffalonews.com/schools.

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