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.