Can it get any worse for the Hamburg Central School District? With each incident the answer becomes disappointingly apparent: yes. The question now is where will it all end, and will it harm the education of the district’s 3,700 students, who perform well despite the dysfunctional adults?
In just the past week we’ve seen the superintendent twice targeted by vandals and the proposed withdrawal, since rescinded, of School Board candidate Kevin R. Steffan because of a “horrible rumor” that he is somehow in cahoots with embattled board Vice President Sally A. Stephenson.
Steffan wrote on Facebook: “I am in no way running to help Sally Stephenson and do not want that connection. My reputation and family are too important.”
He later changed his mind and decided to stay in the race.
The rumor gained traction thanks to Hamburg attorney Daniel J. Chiacchia, well known in the district for pushing for the removal of Stephenson and board members Catherine Schrauth Forcucci and Holly A. Balaya.
Chiacchia said he had posted on his Facebook page that rumors were that Steffan had something to do with the Stephenson camp. Although he said he has since talked with Steffan, the damage was done.
Chiacchia said he based his post on the “public perception” that Steffan was connected with Stephenson because he was seen talking with her at a School Board meeting.
That’s how low it has gotten in the Hamburg Central School District: a conversation becomes evidence of some sort of wrongdoing that translates into a “horrible rumor.”
Schrauth Forcucci was one of three board members elected a year ago. She, along with Stephenson and Balaya formed a board majority that pushed through eyebrow-raising maneuvers, including placing the retiring superintendent on administrative leave, hiring a new law firm and discontinuing the district’s involvement in a lawsuit against Stephenson, Stephenson’s daughter and a teacher for allegedly recording an executive session of the School Board in 2010.
Then the board majority changed, and now the three are part of a board minority that has drawn the ire of many critics.
The board has voted to charge Schrauth Forcucci with official misconduct. She is accused of berating and criticizing Hamburg school officials and disrespecting the board president, hence violating board policy or the district’s code of conduct. And in a stunning example of non-transparency, the board is going to attempt to remove Schrauth Forcucci, an elected official, with a secret hearing.
Shortly after the misconduct charges against Schrauth Forcucci landed, someone struck Superintendent Richard E. Jetter’s car in a school parking lot. The left side of the car was dented and the mirror damaged, and a note warned him to watch his back. Sometime early Saturday morning someone “egged” his rental vehicle while it was in the driveway of his Town of Tonawanda home.
The wonder is that Steffan still wants to join this fray. Meanwhile, the feuding continues, with the adults looking more like a bunch of children engaged in a sandbox dispute.