Hamburg School Superintendent Richard E. Jetter loomed over the district’s misconduct hearing Thursday night, even though he hasn’t worked in the district for more than two weeks.
Jetter was placed on paid administrative leave July 23 after he was charged with falsely reporting to police that vandals damaged his car. He later admitted that he caused the damage.
“If I knew all parts of his testimony were stricken from the record, I could move more quickly,” said attorney Margaret Murphy as she was presenting the defense for board member Catherine Schrauth Forcucci.
Jetter was one of the main witnesses against Schrauth Forcucci. Hearing Officer David Hoover said Murphy would be able to submit information on the car incident, and he accepted Jetter’s confession into evidence.
“It raises very serious questions about Dr. Jetter’s credibility,” said Hoover, adding that the board would have to consider the superintendent’s credibility when it decides the fate of Schrauth Forcucci.
She is facing 12 specifications that she exhibited confrontational behavior, by berating or verbally abusing district staff, the superintendent and board president. The hearing was held behind closed doors until a State Supreme Court justice ruled it should be open.
Former board member Holly Balaya testified that one of the incidents in which Jetter accused Schrauth Forcucci of being confrontational actually involved her and not Schrauth Forcucci. After her discussion with Jetter, he went over and talked to Schrauth Forcucci, and both of them were talking loudly, she said.
“Both were getting heated,” she said.
Balaya also said that not all board members got all information distributed to the board, and not all decisions were discussed by the board.
“It wasn’t a deliberative body,” she said. “There were two people making decisions, Dr. Jetter and Dave Yoviene.”
Balaya also described an executive session in October where parents called for Schrauth Forcucci’s removal. She said Schrauth Forcucci was pacing and crying.
“I actually thought she handled it much better than I would have,” said Balaya, adding that the atmosphere in the meeting was similar to a “mob mentality.”
Balaya also talked about a confrontation between Schrauth Forcucci and Boston Valley Principal James Martinez, who also is district safety officer, as the board was walking to interview then-interim Superintendent Jetter for the permanent superintendent’s position.
Jetter, board President David Yoviene and board member Laura Heeter testified Schrauth Forcucci was out of control as she screamed about Martinez being near the board. He had filed a hostile workplace complaint against Balaya, Schrauth Forcucci and board member Sally Stephenson. Balaya said the board members and Martinez were told to stay away from each other.
“I felt it was an intimidation,” Balaya said of Martinez accompanying board members down the hall.
She said Schrauth Forcucci was not the only one arguing, and Martinez threatened to arrest Schrauth Forcucci.
“They both exchanged words,” Balaya said.
The hearing started May 27, taking place over seven nights for a total of 35 hours. It continues at 9 a.m. Saturday in Armor Elementary School.
Schrauth Forcucci arrived about 15 minutes late to the hearing, wearing her U.S. Postal Service uniform. Murphy said she had to work late.