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Hamburg hearing to continue with testimony from accused board member expected

Hamburg is expected to hear from Catherine Schrauth Forcucci this week.

The woman accused of misconduct by the Hamburg School Board majority will offer her defense this week, attempting to rebut testimony that she yelled at, berated and verbally abused the superintendent, board president and several district employees.

Schrauth Forcucci is expected to testify to the board, which could oust her.

The misconduct hearing is continuing despite the confession of Superintendent Richard E. Jetter – the main witness against Schrauth Forcucci – that he fabricated a vandal attack on his vehicle in a district parking lot. Jetter is now criminally charged with filing a false police report after he admitted that he, not a vandal, damaged his car. He has been placed on paid administrative leave, and is to appear in Village Court on Aug. 27.

The fact that Jetter, the main witness against Schrauth Forcucci, has admitted lying to police and the community should have no effect on the hearing, Board President David Yoviene said.

“There’s been a witness to corroborate all his testimony, and we plan on moving forward,” said Yoviene, who is a prosecution witness against Schrauth Forcucci and also will vote on whether she is guilty of misconduct and should be removed from the board.

Yoviene said he is convinced that the misconduct charges should be placed against Schrauth Forcucci, and he is even more committed today, 10 days after the district placed the superintendent on paid administrative leave.

“Catherine Forcucci’s pattern of misconduct prevents the board from functioning properly,” Yoviene said.

While some have sought a swift end to the Schrauth Forcucci hearing following Jetter’s false report, a group of parents that supported Jetter has called for the hearings to continue.

Ten parents, members of the parents group that has called for the resignations of Schrauth Forcucci and two other board members, issued a statement calling on the community to stand together.

“The actions of Dr. Jetter should in no way diminish or excuse the inappropriate, unethical, and unlawful actions of the other community and board members that have been subject to public scrutiny. Any disciplinary proceedings regarding board members must continue,” said the statement from the parents, including Ed Piazza and Daniel Chiacchia.

Yoviene said the board has not met since Jetter was charged. An offer from Schrauth Forcucci’s lawyer to postpone the hearing while the board searches for an interim superintendent did not change Yoviene’s mind about postponing the hearing. He said he doesn’t view the offer from attorney Margaret Murphy as honest or sincere.

“I think it shows their hand,” Yoviene said, adding if the attorney were sincere she would not have given reporters a copy of the proposal.

Murphy wrote a letter to the district’s lawyer last Wednesday,, restating her position that the hearing should be open to the public, but acknowledging that the hearing is “adversarial in nature, and will do nothing to unite this already splintered school board.”

She also noted the difficulty in finding someone to take the job of interim superintendent while negativity in the district continues.

“Once a superintendent has been selected, this change in leadership may bring a fresh perspective as to whether these hearings should be resumed,” Murphy wrote.

Murphy also suggested to the board in May that it withdraw the charges against her client.

Yoviene will continue his testimony when the hearing resumes with its seventh session at 6 p.m. Monday in Armor Elementary School. The School Board has heard more than 26 hours of testimony, although more than half of that was behind closed doors before a judge ordered that the hearing should be held in public.

After the district’s lawyer, Andrew Freedman, finishes questioning Yoviene, then Murphy will be able to cross examine the board president.

Also expected to testify for the district is the woman who called police in September 2013 after Schrauth Forcucci showed up to the administration building to see Jetter.

Schrauth Forcucci faces 12 specifications that she exhibited confrontational behavior, berating or verbally abusing district staff, the superintendent and board president.“We didn’t do this because she opposed our views. I don’t have a problem with that,” Yoviene said. “She does not know how to act like an adult.”