Reporters barred from Hamburg School board hearing

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – Reporters and the public were barred from the Hamburg School Administration building during the first of several hearings regarding misconduct charges against board member, Catherine Schrauth Forcucci.

Forcucci is facing a number of misconduct charges alleging that she verbally accosted a fellow board member, the interim Superintendent and a building principal.

The board held Tuesday’s hearing, which lasted over three hours, in executive session. Both the public and the media were escorted from the building prior to the executive session, with the building’s doors being locked behind them.

Forcucci’s attorney and even some of the board members argued the hearing ought to have been conducted in public.

“I believe, if you had the opportunity to hear what is going to be presented, that would be filing information. Not just gossip, not just rumors, not just speculation. They would be facts, there would be evidence that would be presented, that may change a lot of people’s minds in this community as to what’s been going on in the last year,” Forcucci’s attorney Margaret Murphy told News 4 at the end of the night.

An attorney for the Hamburg Central School District said conducting the hearings behind closed doors ensures they are “fair and efficient.” The attorney, Andrew Freedman, pointed out that Forcucci will have the opportunity to address the charges against her, and that a stenographer was present to keep complete transcripts of the hearing.

“We didn’t want to create a spectacle, and being able to sit in this room with the stakeholders who will be deciding it was clearly efficient,” added Freedman, “As you know, the Superintendent’s car was vandalized, and his house was vandalized. Security at this proceeding is of utmost importance. If for some reason you felt as if some process didn’t work right, it was not the intention of the board.”

When the meeting re-convened in open session a proposal to allow board member-elect Cam Ward to attend the remainder of the hearings was tabled. The next hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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