Updated 10/01/2010 06:09 PM
Judge says J-E district violated meeting law
A state Supreme Court justice in Syracuse has issued his ruling in a case involving the state's Open Meetings Law and the Jordan-Elbridge school district. YNN's Bill Carey says it is not good news for the district's board of education.
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ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Did the Jordan-Elbridge School District appoint a new interim superintendent of schools earlier this year behind closed doors? Justice Donald Greenwood heard the arguments from the school district and an attorney for a high school principal who challenged what he saw as an illegal appointment.
From the start, the district says that while it had announced the appointment of Sue Gorton and had posted that word on their website, where it remains on display to this day, in fact, the board had not made the appointment.
"Clearly a mistake was made. We've acknowledged that rather readily. The information, the sort of the PR, got out ahead of the actual legal proceedings," school district attorney Frank W. Miller on Wednesday.
The attorney for principal David Zehner said the district did clearly make an appointment, but was backtracking now when it was clear that the state's Open Meetings Law had been violated. No matter what happened behind closed doors, the judge now says it is null and void.
In his ruling, Justice Greenwood makes it clear that he has serious doubts about the school district's version of events, saying in fact, "the process has now been tainted and suggests to the public that there will be no deliberation or discussion because the outcome has already been determined."
The district's attorney says he's disappointed. Zehner's attorney, Stephen Ciotoli, says he is pleased.
In a case that has stirred strong passions in the district, Zehner is hoping there is finally a crack in what he sees as a pattern of secrecy, a pattern he continues to claim is behind a series of personnel actions in recent weeks.
"Mr. Hamilton questioned something a bill for Mr. Medic. He was suspended. I questioned the district on their appointment of their new interim superintendent. I get suspended. Anthony Scro questioned something that the internal auditor said. He was fired. It seems to be, I don't know. To me, it's not that hard to follow what's going on," Zehner said on Wednesday.
All of which may still end up in court.
The Jordan-Elbridge District now plans to discuss the interim superintendent selection at its board meeting on October 6th.