Catherine Schrauth Forcucci said she has made mistakes on the Hamburg Central School Board and would deal with people differently if given the chance.
Witnesses testifying against Schrauth Forcucci in her misconduct hearing have described her as unhinged, irrational and crazy in some of her dealings with the Hamburg superintendent, board president and some staff. But during an interview with reporters at her lawyer’s office Wednesday, she said that she would have done some things differently.
“I’ve made some mistakes. I am brand new to this public service. I have no experience in this. My passion was for doing what I thought was right: to stand up as a community member, to volunteer, to be a voice for the voters and the taxpayers of the district,” she said.
Schrauth Forcucci’s misconduct hearing continues tonight, when her attorney, Margaret Murphy, will begin presenting defense witnesses.
Schrauth Forcucci said she would have changed some of her one-on-one interactions with people.
“We’ve all lost our tempers, and we’ve all raised our voices, and we all are passionate about certain instances, and if I had a chance to do things differently, yes, of course I would,” she said.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Murphy called on Superintendent Richard E. Jetter to resign and to surrender his state teaching and administrative certificates.
Jetter, the main witness against Schrauth Forcucci, has been placed on paid administrative leave and has been charged with filing a false police report that vandals damaged his car. He admitted to police that he dented his own car when he struck a utility pole in Buffalo.
“For him to walk into another school district is sending the wrong message,” Murphy said.
She has filed a complaint with the state Education Department, seeking the revocation of Jetter’s state certifications. The “Part 83” complaint is part of the state’s moral character disciplinary procedures, and could result in the revocation or suspension of certification, a fine or a requirement of continued education or training, according to state Education Department spokesman Jonathan Burman.
But it usually takes months, if not years, for the state education commissioner to issue a decision on a Part 83 petition. The resolution of any criminal charges against Jetter would not be expected to take as long.
One of the requirements of Jetter’s employment with the Hamburg Central School District is that he possess a valid New York State administrator’s certificate. He was placed on a paid leave of absence last month, and the district is seeking his resignation.
Murphy also said she has sent a letter to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III noting her complaint to the state, and the length of the disciplinary process.
Jetter has a five-year contract with the district, and while he can be terminated for cause, that is a long process and the final decision would be up to a hearing officer, not the board. It was the same contract that Schrauth Forcucci and another board member voted against, asking for an executive session to review it.
Murphy suggested that Jetter’s surrender of his certifications would void his contract, which would allow the district to hire a new superintendent and to move on.
“If Dr. Jetter surrenders his certificate to the state education department he will bring immediate closure to this matter,” she said.
Murphy said Jetter’s lies about his car call his testimony against her client into question.
“I don’t think you see the gravity of what he’s done until you see that after the fact, he’s spinned it to the media,” she said. “How he made himself the victim, how he said that he was the victim for retaliation for the work he was doing – and that was a complete fabrication.”
Meanwhile, School Board President David Yoviene called Wednesday’s news conference with the two women “grandstanding,” and said the district does not need Murphy to file the complaint with the state of talk to the district attorney’s office.
“We are obligated to do a Part 83. We intend on doing it,” he said, adding that attorneys were already working on the papers.
He also said that Schrauth Forcucci was supposed to be at an education law conference in Rochester when she was talking to the media Wednesday morning.
He said the district paid for her attendance, and two other board members went.
Murphy said Yoviene is correct, but she said Schrauth Forcucci did get to the conference in the afternoon.