BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – For the first time Wednesday night, the Hamburg Central School Board allowed members of the public and the media to sit in on a disciplinary hearing for Catherine Schrauth Forcucci.
For the past two weeks, the board has postponed hearings against Forcucci, ever since State Supreme Court Justice Diane Devin ruled the hearings must be open to the public.
Forcucci is charged with official misconduct and could be removed from the school board, if the charges are substantiated. She allegedly verbally accosted a fellow board member, the interim superintendent and a building principal.
Forcucci’s attorneys successfully argued that holding the hearings in executive session, as the board previously did on three occasions, violates state education law.
Superintendent Dr. Richard Jetter addressed the crowd at the start of Wednesday’s session, telling members of the public that it was “never the intention” of the board “to keep anything in secret.”
Dr. Jetter testified Wednesday night and was cross-examined by one of Forcucci’s attorneys, Margaret Murphy.
He testified about a number of incidents he says he recalls when Forcucci acted hostile, accusatory or intimidating.
During one meeting, Jetter called Forcucci’s tone of voice “spooky,” comparing it to Jack Nicholson character in “The Shining.”
Murphy asked, “I get a sense that you do not particularly like Catherine. Is that true?”
Jetter responded, “I don’t like people getting into my face, bullying me and intimidating me, no matter who it is.”
Murphy questioned, “Do you like Catherine?”
Jetter replied, “I hate her actions.”
Murphy asked Jetter to explain what Forcucci did that was bullying or harassing.
The superintendent claimed Forcucci was screaming and got into his face, saying she was so close to him only a sheet of paper could fit between them and he “her spit on my face.”
This was the fourth disciplinary hearing the board has held. Dr. Jetter is only the first of at least a half-dozen witnesses.
Transcripts of the previous meetings, which were held in executive session, were handed out to reporters and everyone in the audience.