BUFFALO, NY- The Hamburg school board voted Wednesday night to charge one of its members with misconduct.
The board voted to charge board member Catherine Schrauth Forcucci with misconduct by a 4-2 vote. It is the first step in possibly removing Schrauth Forcucci from the board.
Hamburg School Board President Dave Yoviene previously complained to 2 On Your Side about Schrauth-Forcucci's behavior ahead of Wednesday's meeting.
Only six members on the seven member board voted because Schrauth Forcucci didn't show up.
"Catherine's a fine woman. She's intelligent. She's forthright. She's concerned about our budgetary process," said Board member Sally Stephenson.
Stephenson voted against taking action against Schrauth Forcucci. Stephenson also says she thinks the upcoming proceedings will place an undue burden on taxpayers.
"It's a sad day. This could cost us a quarter of a million dollars and up in a district that's cash strapped," said Stephenson before the vote Wednesday night.
"I think cost has to be looked at from a lot of different angles. What's the potential for litigation if she's not there? What is the potential cost to the district if there's a person who doesn't enhance the board and its role in serving children, I mean, that cost may be immeasurable," said attorney Andrew Freedman.
Freedman is the attorney who will represent the district in the proceedings against Schrauth Forcucci.
In the coming weeks, the board will hold a private hearing where Freedman will present evidence before the board decides whether to discipline Schrauth Forcucci. She will be able to defend herself during these proceedings.
While Board President Dave Yoviene told us Tuesday the charges have to do with Schrauth Forcucci's behavior, because of the way New York State Education law is written, we may never know why her position is in jeopardy.
"The charges are based on official misconduct, however, we're not going to be releasing the charges at this time so that those will be charges that will be heard in executive session during a closed session of the Board of Education," explained Freedman.
Although Schrauth Forcucci was elected by the taxpayers, the majority of those who showed up Wednesday seemed to agree with the board's decision. A large portion of the audience stood up and applauded the board when the meeting came to a close.
"This is a step forward in bringing back our district and focusing on children and education," said Freedman at the end of a press conference he held Wednesday night.
"You certainly have to look at the vote tonight and then that applause that followed, and that gives you your answer," said Hamburg Superintendent Richard Jetter.
The board also voted to approve the hiring of a hearing officer for this case. That attorney will make two-hundred dollars an hour.
The board will decide at its next meeting when to hold the hearing. That hearing will not be public.