The exhortation to “stop this war” would normally sound odd coming from a School Board president, until you realize that it came from the Hamburg schools, which have been plagued by unrest, confusion and chaos.
There’s always some new controversy in the district. Earlier this month, 200 parents, community members and staffers cheered at the mere suggestion that Sally A. Stephenson might be removed from the board.
Imagine the scene at a recent community meeting. Armed with petitions calling for the resignation of Stephenson; her daughter, Holly A. Balaya; and Catherine Schrauth Forcucci for alleged repeated violations of district policies and the code of ethics, this group of parents came loaded for bear. Even Stephenson acknowledged, “I’m up here in a room that hates me.”
The situation in the Hamburg School District, which serves 3,700 students, is intolerable.
The board itself can’t get much right these days. Take, for example, the hiring of a new attorney, something that might be a routine matter if board members hadn’t just hired one six months ago before having second thoughts.
At a recent meeting, board members voted 5-2 to seek proposals for new legal representation, and that included three members who had voted to hire attorney James D. Tresmond just six months ago.
So, the hiring of Tresmond, who has no educational law experience on his legal resume, in a special meeting July 2 – which happened to be one of the first actions by the new board majority – was a mistake? Admitting it, we suppose, is the first step.
Meanwhile, board members had to deal with whether to provide legal representation for former board President Joan Calkins and former Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch in a complaint filed with the state Division of Human Rights.
Board members have been accused of intimidation, overspending and infighting. Parents have pleaded for order, to no avail. In the midst of all this, board members considered entering discussions with the Buffalo School District over the possibility of transferring city students into Hamburg.
But as one helpful parent suggested, “Shouldn’t we get our house in order first?”
That’s excellent advice. Hamburg School Board members and district officials have made a mess of things. And that’s putting it mildly.