OSWEGO, NY – A few accusations, and some other things, were thrown around the table at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
The board voted 2-4 (board member John Dunsmoor was absent for the vote but arrived at the meeting later on) on a resolution to seek the removal of sitting board member Fran Hoefer.
Board members Jim Tschudy and Tom DeCastro first brought up the motion of removing Hoefer at last month’s meeting. The board, however, merely discussed its options and took no formal action.
On Tuesday night, DeCastro brought the motion to the floor with Tschudy seconding. They were the only “yes” vote minutes later when the vote was taken.
At one point, DeCastro held up a manila envelope, “about a half inch thick, which he said contained media clippings, emails and stuff from the local website Inside Oswego “that is full of lies, slander,” documenting the reasons Hoefer should be removed. “Is that what we are to expect from one of our fellow board members?” he asked.
“You have to look at this on a number of viewpoints. First you have the matter of tenure and the voting record that Mr. Hoefer has; so far he has not voted in favor of any tenure appointment. I understand that he doesn’t believe in tenure. His argument is not with us, not with our teachers. It is with the Commissioner of Education,” DeCastro pointed out. “Rather than use our table as his launching platform, I think we should let him go.”
Secondly, Hoefer has talked about returning $3 million t the taxpayers, DeCastro continued, adding, “I am not sure where he is going to get that from. And, I hope that should that occur that he’s going to have the answers to the taxpayers come May when we have to vote on another budget and (the taxpayers) have to return said money.”
If the board returned the money and then there was a shortfall in the next budget and the money had to be returned, DeCastro said he was sure Hoefer “would scream for teachers to lose jobs, programs to be cut” including music, band and athletics.
“I find some of the comments Franny makes rather appalling,” said Board President Dave White. “His comments about some of the help I don’t agree with. But I have a real problem with kicking someone off.”
A few years ago, as a aboard member, White tried to get certain information and couldn’t get it. He feels some other board members wanted to remove him because he kept trying.
“I don’t agree with Franny, Mr. Hoefer, on how he treats people,” White said. “But Mr. Hoefer got elected and if the Commissioner of Education has a problem, then let the commissioner come down here and do what he has to do. (Hoefer’s) entitled to his own opinion, even if I don’t agree with it.”
“If I don’t defend his right to actually make a fool out of himself, if that’s his choice, then who’s going to defend mine?” White continued. “Who’s next?
“The commissioner speaks on behalf of all the people of the state,” Tschudy said. “My concern in making the motion is when a decision of the commissioner is blatantly disregarded … that can be understood as cause for the removal of a board member.”
Board member Kathleen Allen said Hoefer slandered her and other board members by calling them names.
“But, my bottom line is the district spent $45,000 to remove you last time,” Allen said. “Personally, I don’t think you’re worth the money to remove again. I can deal with you. It’s unfortunate that we have to do that.”
If the Commissioner of Education recommended Hoefer’s removal, then she’d support it, she added.
Tenure protects incompetence and mediocrity, Hoefer said.
“Refusing to approve tenure is the highest form of standing up for our children’s future,” Hoefer said.
“I would never vote to throw Fran off,” board member Sam Tripp said, adding he wasn’t sure of the reasons others wanted to remove him.
“When you’ve got some time, read it,” DeCastro said as he tossed the large envelope onto the table in front of Tripp.
“I can read, Tom, and I don’t need you to help me. Now stick it in your ear,” Tripp said flinging the envelope back at DeCastro.
“Hey, knock it off, damnit! What the hell!” White shouted trying to restore order. “Don’t be throwing stuff! Knock it off, knock it off.”
Tripp noted that Hoefer’s fight shouldn’t be about tenure, rather with those who do lackluster evaluations for those in line for tenure.
“It was $46,000 last time; it would probably be $65,000 this time. I’m not going to support one nickel to remove a board member,” Tripp said. “He’s here as far as I’m concerned.”