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Hamburg superintendent confrontation with Board Member Schrauth Forcucci

Hamburg Superintendent Richard Jetter said Wednesday he remembers School Board member Catherine Schrauth Forcucci “screaming in his face” and said she bullied him.

The incident occurred Sept. 3 outside a Buffalo building.

“I don’t remember the words. I remember the screaming in my face,” he said. “I felt bullied by Catherine Schrauth Forcucci. It’s as simple as that.”

Jetter said repeatedly that Schrauth Forcucci berated him and screamed at him during several incidents.

The Hamburg Central School Board on Wednesday opened up a hearing on Schrauth Forcucci to the public after being ordered by a judge not to continue it in secret.

The board brought official misconduct charges against Schrauth Forcucci, and it could remove her from office if it finds her guilty of the charges.

Schrauth Forcucci is charged with official misconduct for those and other incidents. She denies all of the charges.

Wednesday’s session was the first to be open to the public, and about 40 people were on hand for the proceedings in Armor Elementary School.

It also was Jetter’s fourth session testifying about the incidents. He is undergoing cross-examination by Schrauth Forcucci’s lawyer, Margaret Murphy.

Before Wednesday’s hearing began, district officials released the transcript for the first three days to people sitting in the audience.

Jetter said he may have had one of the locations in one of the charges incorrect, but there were many incidents.

“She probably was yelling at Union-Pleasant (Elementary School) on another occasion at somebody else,” he said.

The board had held three secret sessions, in which it locked out the public and the media from the administration building. During that time Jetter testified. Andrew Freedman, the district’s lawyer, led the questioning of him and he was cross-examined by Schrauth Forcucci’s attorney, Margaret Murphy.

Schrauth Forcucci, who denies the charges, has argued from the beginning that she wanted the hearing to take place before the public who elected her.

The district had maintained from the night the charges were brought, April 30, that the hearing would be held in executive session because it did not want a public spectacle.

But Schrauth Forcucci brought action in State Supreme Court, and Justice Diane Y. Devlin ruled earlier this month ruled that the hearing should be conducted in public.

Schrauth Forcucci, who has served on the board for one year, is accused of berating and criticizing school officials and disrespecting the board president, thus violating board policy or the district’s code of conduct.

The board refused to make the charges public, but The Buffalo News obtained a copy of them from Schrauth Forcucci’s lawyer.

The charges state that since last July, Schrauth Forcucci’s interactions with school employees, board members and members of the public have been “confrontational” and “impaired the ability of the board to function.”

The charges allege Schrauth Forcucci demanded that Jetter, who was interim superintendent at the time, provide her with legal expense reports Sept. 24 and refused to leave the district office when asked “multiple times,” prompting him to have police called. According to a police report, the police officer asked her to leave and she did.

She also is accused of berating, or verbally attacking, the superintendent four times and invading his “personal space” two times.

Schrauth Forcucci also is accused of repeatedly berating and/or verbally attacking a principal and a secretary, and failing to return executive session materials on three occasions.

After an hourlong discussion, the board scheduled the next hearing for Monday.