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Martzloff 'vindicated' as hearing officer backs firing of assistant

A hearing officer ruled Monday that the Williamsville Central Schools can fire an assistant superintendent who in December 2014 was charged by the School Board with insubordination, misconduct and other charges by the School Board, district officials said.

Following a public hearing that began in May 2015, the independent hearing officer found Kim A. Kirsch, the district's assistant superintendent for human resources, guilty of five charges, including 103 of 113 specifications within those charges, Superintendent Scott Martzloff said late Monday.

"It was a slam dunk," he said. "It's been a long road, but the truth has now come out."

Under state education law, the district had to prove its case against Kirsch, a tenured employee, before school officials could fire her. The district brought five charges against her, including incompetence, misconduct, neglect of duty, insubordination and conduct unbecoming of an assistant superintendent.

Kirsch was placed on paid administrative leave in August 2014 after she was accused of poorly managing her department, forwarding confidential email to herself and failing to heed the directives of the superintendent.

Kirsch’s attorney claimed at that time the investigation against her was little more than a “witch hunt” intended to oust a top-level manager of the school district after she brought complaints about the superintendent to the Board of Education.

"We totally disagree," Kirsch's attorney, Michael A. Starvaggi, said of the ruling late Monday. "It was a bad decision. We're just reviewing our options right now."

Martzloff’s actions to remove Kirsch had galvanized opposition against him from the district's teachers union. Many of the union complaints against Martzloff date back several years: his efforts to fire Kirsch, the involuntary transfer of a teacher, union allegations of lack of integrity and abuse of power in 2014, and a vote of no confidence by the union.

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The 140-page ruling was not made available late Monday. Martzloff said the 49 days of the hearing resulted in 6,256 pages of transcripts, 27 witnesses, 152 documented exhibits and tens of thousands of emails presented by both sides. The hearing wrapped up in March.

"The district was found to be in the right," he said, adding that he felt "vindicated" by the ruling.

The School Board on Tuesday is expected to accept the hearing officer's determination, which would make Kirsch's termination effective Wednesday, said Martzloff.

Board President Toni Vazquez did not immediately respond to a requests for comment late Monday.

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