The Board of Education on Wednesday hired an independent consultant to investigate what district officials knew about retired facilities director Steven Raucci’s alleged workplace misconduct.
Rachel Rissetto, human resource director for the Clinton Essex Warren Washington BOCES, will investigate allegations that Raucci sexually harassed and intimidated colleagues. She will be paid $100 per hour.
The board did not set a cap on her fee. School Attorney Shari Greenleaf said she did not know how long the investigation would take but said it would be more than just a couple of days.
Rissetto was selected from three finalists interviewed and about a dozen considered. Greenleaf said the district wanted somebody who had no prior association or relationship with the district.
Rissetto has worked for CEWW BOCES since 2000 and in her present position deals with personnel issues and employee discipline on a daily basis. Her other duties include health insurance coordination, contract negotiations for 17 school districts and arbitrations.
Greenleaf said the investigation would begin immediately and Rissetto would be given “unfettered access” to documents and anybody involved in this matter.
Last month, the board accepted Raucci’s retirement from his position. The 60-year-old Niskayuna resident is facing charges in three counties for allegedly planting explosive devices in what Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney has said is a pattern of intimidation.
During the course of the criminal case, Carney also alleged that Raucci had won a school district power struggle and that “higher-ups were beholden to him.”
The investigation will only focus on the allegations of workplace misconduct. One such allegation is that he distributed a memo to a new female hire to “Take time every day to keep your appearance pleasing for your supervisor.”
In addition, the district is also being sued for $8 million by former employee Ronald Kriss, who alleges harassment by Raucci dating from May 2003 through October 2006. Kriss said he suffers from irritable bowel syndrome and an anxiety disorder and Raucci allegedly made demeaning comments against him. Kriss won a workers’ compensation ruling in his favor.
Board President Jeff Janiszewski said the district has spoken with Carney about the matter and he is not opposed to the district’s investigation. “At this time he is not able to share any of his evidence,” he said.
Janiszewski said the investigation will be transparent and thorough.
“I think it’s very important to do this to maintain the trust in our school system,” he said.