Community members told the Hamburg Central School Board this week they have had enough of bad behavior.
“I’m just annoyed as a taxpayer to see the silly and nasty problems you’ve had as a board, and you’ve got to solve them,” Brian Leach told the board during its reorganization meeting Tuesday.
“I don’t care how we got here,” parent Edward Piazza added. “With strong leadership, you can turn this around.”
The board Tuesday chose newly elected member David Yoviene as president on a 4-3 vote and Sally Stephenson as vice president, again on a 4-3 vote. The board also appointed Assistant Superintendent Richard E. Jetter as acting superintendent.
It may not be done with changes. The board called a special meeting for 7:30 a.m. Friday at the administration building, 5305 Abbott Road. The agenda is to be available sometime today.
More than 100 residents attended the new board’s meeting, a measure of the interest in the workings of the school district. Nine members of the public spoke, including members of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association and Vincent Coppola, who has spent 40 years in public education and whose children graduated from Hamburg.
“Little did I think we would have more people at a School Board meeting than at the Armor Inn,” he quipped.
Coppola, an education consultant who has served as superintendent of West Seneca schools and has conducted more than 70 searches for superintendents in other districts, appealed to the board’s good “angels.”
“There’s a piece of good news inside everyone on this board,” he said.
He suggested board members choose their words carefully when speaking, have a board retreat this summer, conduct several public community forums and work together to build a performance team.
“Clearly, I wish you well,” Coppola said. “I’m here to encourage you.”
While the votes for president and vice president of the board were not unanimous, all seven members voted for Jetter, after meeting in executive session.
“I discussed with them that if one person did not feel comfortable, we can’t move forward,” Jetter said. “I appreciated that support.”
There were split votes for the board officers. Yoviene ran against Thomas F. Flynn III for president. Board Members Sally Stephenson, Laura Heeter, Catherine Schrauth Forcucci and Yoviene voted for Yoviene.
Flynn also was nominated for vice president. Voting for Stephenson for vice president were Yoviene, Schrauth Forcucci, Holly Balaya and Stephenson.
One parent told the board she was a victim of cyber bullying when she was attacked on a blog after last week’s board meeting for voicing her opinions. She held signs saying “Our kids come first” and “What’s the rush?” and was interviewed by a local television station following a board meeting.
Retaliation was immediate, Wendy Evenden said, with anonymous postings, “not challenging the issue I raised but calling me names,” she said.
“Is this the Hamburg you want to live in, where you’re not free to question your School Board without fear of intimidation?” she said.
Meanwhile, parents urged the board members to cooperate with one another.
There have been three major complaints about the district in recent years – a lack of transparency, misuse of funds, and personal vendettas, Cindy Edie said.
“I was hopeful the current board would work together to alleviate these issues so that the focus could return to the educational issues facing our schools,” she said.