GLOVERSVILLE - The city school board on Tuesday hired an attorney in members' efforts to remove their president, Peter Semione, for alleged misconduct.
The board approved the proposal 5-3 to hire attorney Mark R. Rose of Rose Law Offices of Little Falls at the rate of $150 per hour.
The proposal said there will be no fee for the attorney to travel to and from the Gloversville school district. However, travel to and from Albany will be charged the hourly rate.
Gloversville school board member Jean LaPorta formally asks Peter Semione to resign as president at Tuesday’s meeting.
The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher
Board members previously decided against using the district's attorney, James E. Girvin, in the matter. Girvin's rate per hour is $165, according to school documents provided by school board member Joseph Andrews.
Andrews said Rose represents the Little Falls school district and was recommended by that district.
Andrews said he and members Mike Hauser and Frank Carangelo consulted with Rose earlier in the week and determined Rose would be the best candidate.
How they voted
The following voted to hire an attorney:
Mike Hauser, Joseph Andrews, Frank Carangelo, Polly Peck, Robert Curtis.
The following voted against the measure: Peter Semione, E. Lynn Brown and Jean LaPorta.
Richard Carlson was not in attendance.
"He interviewed us just as much as we interviewed him," said Hauser. "He was definitely the best candidate we had."
"I think this is unchartered territory," said Andrews. "The board was brave to step out and do this because it is unknown. When someone has been victimized, it is the hardest thing in the world for the victim to come forward and say that."
Board member Jean LaPorta urged Semione at the meeting to step down from his officer's position so the board could move on with other issues.
"Regardless of who is right or wrong in this issue, I am asking the board to move beyond it," said LaPorta. "Parents are not interested in an issue of board politics, and frankly, neither am I. I am asking Pete to do the right thing and resign because he knows he has lost the board's confidence."
Semione refused to resign.
The board is seeking to either remove Semione from his role as president or from the school board altogether, and has stated it would not take this course of action if the president were to step down.
Andrews said the issues with Semione began when board members ran into difficulty trying to get questions answered about the transfer of Maggie Savage, a high school music teacher, to a position at the middle school. A teacher who had been at the middle school has taken her place.
"That was the straw that broke the camel's back," said Andrews. "We are just at a point where we need to focus on the education of the students. We want more transparency as a board."
Board members E. Lynn Brown and LaPorta said they voted against the proposal to hire the attorney because they were not given enough time to look into the attorney's ability and qualifications.
Andrews claims Semione called him, Polly Peck and Vice President Frank Carangelo and made threats to them.
Semione has denied threatening anyone and previously said he will not step down as president because he has done nothing wrong.
Semione declined to comment after Tuesday's meeting, saying it now was a legal matter. He did, however, say Tuesday morning he would not be hiring any attorney to represent him in this process.
Andrews said he is unsure how long this process will take.
The state Education Department website said a petition will not be ready for review until all of the papers in the case have been filed. The commissioner will issue a decision within six to eight months, but with hundreds of complex appeals filed each year, it is impossible to guarantee a specific date, according to the Education Department.
Semione was elected to a three-year term in May. Each July, the board decides on a new board president. Board members are not paid.
It remains unclear at this time whether the petition would be answered before the election for board president.
Andrews said he has no interest in becoming an officer of the board if Semione were removed.
"There are no power trips here," said Andrews. "We are here to pass policies and procedures to fulfill state and federal mandates."
"I want to assure our students, their families and our staff that this issue will not prevent us from moving our educational program forward," Superintendent Michael Vanyo said. "We will remain committed to providing a strong educational program here in Gloversville while the board moves through this process."