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Gowanda school board sets hearing dates for Barnes

David Barnes

GOWANDA — Whether they participated remotely or in person in the Gowanda Middle School Library, Wednesday was a long night for all members of the Gowanda Board of Education, who adjourned their 6:30 p.m. meeting well after 10 p.m. after discussing disciplinary action for a teacher and scheduling board member David Barnes’ hearing dates.

Just before 9 p.m., the board adjourned for executive session and resumed the meeting at 10:07 p.m. Board President Ron Cook announced hearing officer Rocco Stanza’s Aug. 4 decision pursuant to Education Law Section 3020-a for a disciplinary matter involving a district tenured teacher. Cook explained that due to confidentiality, he could not share the details of the matter or the teacher involved; however, he stated, “I want to assure you that the district is taking all necessary steps to protect students’ safety. The district has achieved as much accountability as it could…”

Board member Jim Hotnich made a motion to approve the resolution, which was seconded by Lynn Guzzetta. The motion carried unanimously.

Cook continued with a second resolution regarding the scheduling of hearings for Barnes, who was charged with official misconduct pursuant to New York State Education Law 1709 (18) in May. The hearings were scheduled to be conducted this week; however, the resolution referenced the district’s needs regarding work that must be completed to plan for the reopening of the school year. The resolution proposed new hearing dates of Sept. 29 and 30 and Oct. 1, 6, 7, and 8 at 5 p.m.

Cook read, “(This) affirms the board’s continuing expectation that all board members will conduct themselves professionally, respectfully, and constructively, and in accordance with all applicable provisions of law and district policy.”

Guzzetta made the motion, which was seconded by Mark Nephew. The motion carried with just one opposing vote, which was made by Janet Vogtli who was also charged with misconduct in May. No hearing dates were set for Vogtli during Wednesday’s meeting.

The first two hours of the meeting were devoted to a general discussion of possible reopening plans. According to a recent district-wide survey, approximately 80% of respondents were in favor of some level of in-person instruction.

Superintendent Dr. Robert Anderson reviewed plans for hybrid learning scenarios in which students would learn remotely and in school one or two days per week. Special education self-contained classrooms would meet in person each day, and career and technical education students would participate in hybrid learning at vocational centers and utilize the district buildings as needed on “off” CTE days.

The district will hold a public presentation to share the full details of reopening plans for each building during the Wednesday, Aug. 19, board of education meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m.

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