BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – For the first time, an embattled member of the Hamburg School Board charged with official misconduct is giving her side of the story.
Catherine Schrauth Forcucci spoke exclusively to News 4 Wednesday about the heated battle to remove her from the board. She spoke to News 4′s Ed Drantch on the same day that sources say Hamburg Superintendent Dr. Richard Jetter admitted to police he fabricated a report about his car being vandalized and checked himself into BryLin Hospital to be treated for depression.
Forcucci says she is not giving up and is in this for the long haul. While she’s only been on the board about a year, she says she is not a ‘rubber stamp’ for the superintendent.
The embattled school board member insists she will not resign, despite others on the board doing all they can to remove her.
“If I walked away I would have eternal regrets,” Forcucci said. “This hearing is just a point, a method I think to shush me up get me off the board. I believe they thought they were playing a game of chicken with me and it’s not working.”
For months, Forcucci says she’s been trying to get answers about district issues, including employee contracts, payroll accountability and other district procedures.
“I saw problems fiscally with the district,” Forcucci said. “I think we can be better and when I started bringing attention by asking questions, they refused to give me information so I could look into what procedures we were doing, how we were spending money, were we managing money the best way possible to educate our students, I got a lot of push back.”
Forcucci says she has been blocked from speaking with certain officials, including internal auditors, who were highly critical of the district and its spending.
“I am sitting here trying to do my job and all of this whirlwind is not initiated by me,” Forcucci said.
She adamantly denies any and all of the charges brought against her by the board. Forcucci argues there were never enough votes to bring the misconduct charges in the first place. She says the board president voted and her lawyer claims he should not have.
“It is simply, I believe, a deflection and planed by the district to take the public’s mind off what we really need to concentrate on,” she said.
At one of the hearings, Dr. Jetter claimed Forcucci spoke in a spooky voice, similar to that of the character played by Jack Nicholson in the movie, “The Shining.”
Forcucci says there were no witnesses to this conversation and that she was cordial with the superintendent.
“We were both cordial and we were both having a chat about when I can get those legal invoices I had requested as a board member,” she recalled.
One of Forcucci’s big issues is the contract the board signed with Dr. Jetter. She says she only had minutes to review it before it was approved and still objects to its contents.