Attorneys for embattled school board member want open meetings

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – Despite a court challenge, Wednesday night’s disciplinary hearing against Catherine Schrauth Forcucci, part of the process to determine whether Forcucci will remain on the Hamburg Central School Board, was held behind closed doors once again.

Forcucci, her attorneys, and even some other school board members have been arguing from the beginning that the disciplinary hearings against Forcucci should be open to the public.

Forcucci’s attorneys have now filed an Order to Show Cause and a Memorandum of Law in court.

In those documents, they stay there is nothing in New York State Education Law that allows the Hamburg Central School District to conduct these proceedings behind closed doors.

Those filings did not stop the board from conducting Wednesday night’s hearing in executive session, once again locking media out of the building.

Before the meeting even began an argument between the board members and attorneys in the room took place.

Hamburg School Board Vice-President Sally Stephenson said, “The state’s highest court has ruled quasi-judicial proceedings must be conducted in the open. So, ‘Are we going to ignore our state’s highest court?’ is the question. I’m not going to, so I’ll be voting no on the motion to move into executive session.”

Hamburg Central School District Attorney Andrew Freedman responded, “That Court of Appeals case can easily be distinguished from the case that we have here. That Court of Appeals case dealt with unemployment and labor law. It was under a totally different statute than what we have here.”

For the first portion of executive session, Forcucci and her attorneys also had to leave the room, while the other board members received advice from the school district’s attorney.

Board members did not state publicly what they were receiving advice on, but presumably, it had to do with the legal documents filed by Forcucci’s attorneys Wednesday.

Andrew Freedman, an attorney for the Hamburg Central School District, declined to speak with reporters after Wednesday’s session.

However, one of Forcucci’s attorneys, Margaret Murphy, told reporters she is hopeful that the State Supreme Court will swiftly intervene and compel the board to let the public in on the disciplinary hearings against her client.

The board has scheduled hearings for June 5, 6, 11, 13 and 25. With the exception of the June 5 session, each hearing will be held from 6 – 11 P.M.

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