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Students need to be the focus of meetings

In a couple of weeks, students from kindergarten through high school will be walking the hallways as they begin the 2012-13 school year. It is supposed to be a time of excitement, and maybe some nervousness as you get comfortable with new teachers, and in some cases, new students.

In each school district, they have a board of education that is supposed to make decisions with the intent of providing students with the best quality education possible.

Each year that job, done by a group of people who do not get paid, becomes increasingly more difficult as they are in charge of making hard budget decisions, that become harder with increased state mandates, less state aid and a tax cap levy.

Right now at the Hamburg School District, all of those things seem secondary as lawsuits continue to be the focal point of recent school board meetings.

Several current and former school board members are part of a suit against a few people, including current school board member Sally Stephenson, her daughter Lindsay, a former teacher at Hamburg and current teacher Martha Kavanaugh, for what they believe are their roles in an executive session that was taped in September 2010.

The board brought the suit in what members believe is an attempt to protect the rights associated with executive sessions.

Stephenson, along with her daughter Holly Balaya, another member of the board, asked board members to consider paying their own legal fees.

While all of this is going on, there is little discussion about the upcoming school year, or the accomplishments of students and educators.

Hamburg is a proud district with many talented students, and education needs to be the focal point of the board of education, no matter what side you are on in the legal battles.

At this point and time, board members need to try and put their differences aside and get back to the task at hand: providing the best quality education. This is why members of the board were elected.

This does not mean that we do not feel if any person or persons (in this case a board of education) feels they have been wronged that they should not turn to laws as a way to protect the rights they believe were violated nearly two years ago.

They have clearly stated their position that they believe what they are doing is trying to protect the rights associated with executive sessions. At this time, there does not need to have further discussions about the matter until it is before a judge. School is about to start. Time to get the focus of these meetings back on the students.

Those battles should not be played out in public anymore. Ultimately, no matter what you believe in this case, the court of public appeal is not going to decide the outcome.

The court of law will, and that court is not located at any building within the Hamburg School District. An editorial will not decide the outcome, as will a letter to the public from the school board president, or words on a blog site either.

A judge will look at the evidence presented, weigh it and decide guilt or innocence.

What students need is for the board to allow that battle to move to the courtroom when it is scheduled. They need board members that were elected to represent them to focus on education at meetings. The bottom line is board members, current and former, are going forward with the fight. It is time for that discussion to be between lawyers and clients and then presented to a judge.

Lets not hurt students anymore. This is a challenge to the Hamburg Board of Education to end the fights at board meetings, get back to the task of making the best decisions for students and allow the legal battles to play itself out in the proper forum, a courtroom.


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2012-08-23 | 17:31:55
Shame on You
Chris, While I agree with you that the students are at the core of our focus, you need not say there is nothing going on that is student focus. If you were at the August Meeting you will have noted that Sally Stephenson brought a resolution to the BOE which was approved by all members to take a strong stand against abuse of drugs and alcohol. This lawsuit will plague this district for years to come, so lets not sweep it under the carpet with all the other taboo topics that Hamburg refuses to address. Chris, its not about window dressing. Its about a school board bullying teachers and former teachers. Chris, why dont you write a story about the grade fraud that went on at HHS in 2010??? Maybe the public would like to know some of the issues that the BOE are trying to cover up. Chris, do you think the BOE has historically operated in the best interest of children, when they work so hard to cover up grade fraud. What does that teach kids? Joan Calkins knows about the grade fraud, and she needs to be held accountable. Its your job to address it, not make like it does not exist. Do a better job, please.
2012-08-25 | 13:29:27
As a journalist you should know full well that the BOE VIOLATED OPEN MEETING LAWS. THe recording was NOT of an executive session. And the things said on that tape should be addressed by the SUN. The SUN has failed to adequately address the content of the tape. The Sun plays a part in keeping the lollypop land mentality alive and well in Hamburg. How about the vile nasty and unlawful comments that were made about Lindsey? Joan Calkins and Steve Achrmovitch lied. Why not dig into that Chris???? Why doesnt the SUn report that? Please publish.
2012-08-26 | 12:52:26
Hey CHRISTOPHER GORDON
Chris, If you pay close attention at the board meetings, most of what goes on IS about the kids. Did you happen to catch the resolution that sally proposed, that was unanimously approved, which will end the drug problem at Hamburg? To say that citizens that are wronged should allow board members to ruin their lives, "for the kids sake" is a joke. Get a clue.
2012-08-26 | 13:23:01
Chris, You are at the BOE meetings. Do you really think its about the kids? The BOE members dont talk. THere is no meaningful conversation. Its all pregamed behind closed doors. The same closed doors that the BOE was behind when they lied about and slandered Kavanaugh and Stephensons. Why dont you try to learn the truth instead of drinking from the cup. Cmon Chris, do a better job.
2012-08-27 | 12:20:06
I agree
If the newspaper would do its job and be the watchdog of government rather than the lap dog, these issue may not have reached the point of private citizens having to sue in order to get the district to follow the law and their own policies. How about a NEWS story about the 1.3 million? How about some REAL REPORTING and INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM? Does the Sun's reporter ever ask the SB a question on behalf of the people? Ever ask about the implication of any decision on the taxpayers? Why wasn't it THE SUN raising holy hell over the beach of Open Meetings Law?!!! The Sun should have been leading the charge on that one. The Sun should be leading the charge on a lot of these issues. You could take some lessons from the Buff News' Mary Pasciak.
2012-08-30 | 15:15:31
What?
I was at the last meeting and only a very small percentage of it was about the kids.. And to suggest that what Sally proposed "will end the drug problem at Hamburg" is absolutely ludicrous.
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