Hamburg, NY - The heated school board hearing in Hamburg is taking a break until August.
Wednesday night brought another emotional round of testimony in what's become a sad but compelling saga involving Hamburg School Board Member Catherine Schrauth Forcucci. She is facing official misconduct charges and is accused of intimidating and bullying colleagues and administrators.
So far, this hearing has been going on for six days and more than 24 hours, and Wednesday night we heard from three more witnesses.
The first was the personnel clerk who spoke about the time Forcucci allegedly took a picture of an employee's record with her phone and tore up a form she was supposed to sign.
"She was very loud. Very hostile. Very aggressive. The phrasing I recall her using was, why would you ever think that I was there as a board member? Why am I getting calls as a board member? I was there. I never told you I was there as a board member," said personnel clerk Sharon Matern.
"How loud was Ms. Forcucci on the phone?" asked Andrew Freedman, the attorney representing the district.
"Sharon, how could you think that I was there as a board member? I was there as Melissa's friend. I never, ever told you I was a board member," said Matern as she recalled the phone call.
The second witness was the secretary to the superintendent and the board. She talked about her encounters with Forcucci in person and one time in particular when she says Forcucci tried trapping her in the bathroom.
"And, I proceeded to exit the bathroom, and I attempted to step left to walk around her, and she blocked me. She stepped left and matched me. And, and she smirked at me. So I thought, well, maybe, you know, what is she doing here? So I stepped to the right and she matched my step. I mean, she was right in my face," says secretary Jennifer Lackey.
"What were you thinking at this.." started Freedman.
"What is, what in the world is this crazy lady doing? Preventing me from leaving and blocking and boxing me like a trapped dog in a cage in the bathroom. Crazy," said Lackey.
"Okay, I think..." started Freedman.
"I'm sorry. It's very upsetting. I'm sorry," said Lackey.
The school board president also began his testimony Wednesday night.
With the holiday and Forcucci's attorney not being available for most of July, the board decided to continue these hearings next month, including a seven hour session on a Saturday. Forcucci's attorney hasn't started calling witnesses yet. She says she will call four or five people to testify, including Forcucci.