Attempt to oust board member could cost thousands of dollars

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) - The battle to remove a member of the Hamburg Central School Board could cost district taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Even though Hamburg School Superintendent Dr. Richard Jetter, the key witness against School Board member Catherine Forcucci, faces criminal charges for admittedly lying about what happened to his car, the hearings are continuing by those who want Forcucci removed from the board. They claim her behavior has been disruptive to the district and is preventing the board from functioning.

Forcucci’s lead attorney, Margaret Murphy, has repeatedly called for the hearings to end, claiming they are a drain on the district and are not warranted. She referred to the hearings as a “wasteful use of taxpayer’s money.”  She said it is money that is not going into the classroom.

A News 4 analysis of hourly rates indicates that the school district’s two attorneys from Hodgson Russ, could bill as much as a combined $458 an hour, if they are adhere to the firm’s rates. News 4 has submitted a Freedom of Information Request for the latest numbers.

The two attorneys fees for Forcucci would amount to $500 an hour, money the district might have to pay if Forcucci is successful in keeping her seat on the board.

There are indications all the attorneys involved might reduce their fees, considering the impact on the district.

The hearing officer makes $250 an hour. There have been about 30 hours of hearings so far, by one count. The hearing officer would also be paid for preparation time.

Finally, a court reporter’s cost is figured per transcript page, which can run from $3.95 to $8.50 a page.

So, how much are we talking about here?

“Easily $200,000, And what is a shame is from the very beginning of this hearing, from my first opening statement, I said to the board how all this could have been alleviated,” Murphy said.

Forcucci’s attorney believes the board could have worked out differences through discussions. However, Board President Dave Yoviene said Monday he is determined to continue the hearings, claiming Forcucci’s behavior in dealing with issues has prevented the board from functioning.

“We are having the district tabulate what the cost is so far,” said Yoevine. “Hodgson Russ has been very fair with us and we expect that it’s not going to be what everybody’s reading and hearing.”

We do not have a choice,” said the board president. “We must continue on with the hearings.”

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