WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — Dr. Kim Kirsch is expected to be officially fired from her position at the Williamsville Central School District Tuesday night.
School board members will meet at 7 o’clock and will likely follow the recommendation of a neutral hearing officer to terminate Kirsch.
The Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources has been on leave for almost three years.
In December 2014 the district charged Kirsch with Incompetence, Misconduct, Neglect of Duty, Insubordination, and Conduct Unbecoming of an Assistant Superintendent.
According to the 130-page decision by the hearing officer, Kirsch failed to complete her duties, forwarded confidential emails, and went behind the back of her boss, Superintendent Scott Martzloff.
“This has been a really an extensive process. We have again, looked at thousands of documents, there’s been dozens of witnesses, lots of hearing dates. All of the information was brought forward and a determination by a neutral party was made. And I think we need to respect his reasons and thoughtful decision and look to move forward as a school district,” Martzloff told News 4 Tuesday morning.
Kirsch is a tenured administrator, so bringing charges against her wasn’t an easy task.
“Tenure gives employees significant rights, really property rights to a job. It’s very difficult and the standard is very high to remove a person with tenure, whether it’s a teacher, a principal, or in this case an assistant superintendent,” said Martzloff.
Kirsch was hired in 2007 by Martzloff’s predecessor. Her attorney, Michael Starvaggi claims the charges were in retaliation for Kirsch bringing concerns about Martzloff’s conduct to the board in June of 2014.
“The hearing officer in a number of places in his roughly 140-page decision points out that the retaliation charges are without merit,” Martzloff said.
The hearing officer was switched approximately halfway through the process because the first hearing officer was “unable to complete their duties.”
“The hearing officer also shared that there’s just overwhelming evidence. I mean, you’re talking about being guilty of 103 out of 113 specifications that fall under five major charges. That’s pretty close to being guilty of everything you’re accused of,” Martzloff said.
Kirsch been supported by the Williamsville Teachers’ Association since the charges against her were filed in 2014; Monday, following news of Kirsch’s expected termination, the group posted: “As educators, it is always our responsibility to fight injustice. We won’t win every time, but standing up for what is right is essential regardless of the outcome.”
Martzloff informed administrators of the hearing officer’s determination Monday, and informed the rest of the district’s staff Tuesday morning.
“It’s been a long road. It’s definitely some relief that it’s over with. It’s kind of been a bit of a dark cloud hanging over the district that needed to be resolved one way or another. At the same time it saddens me that it came to this,” Martzloff told News 4.
A federal lawsuit against the district was filed by Kirsch in 2014, after the district filed the charges against her. The case is still pending according to Starvaggi.
Starvaggi said the move to fire Kirsch is “totally contrary with law.”
“We’re not done,” Starvaggi said of the move he called “virtually unprecedented.”
Kirsch’s firing will not be official until the school board approves it Tuesday night.
Larry Militello is serving as Acting Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources. He will stay in the position through summer as the district looks for a permanent replacement.
Kirsch’s approximately $170,000 salary will end as soon as Wednesday morning, if the board votes to terminate her.