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Couple sue school district over Raucci case

Couple sue school district over Raucci case

Two people allegedly targeted by former city schools facilities director Steven Raucci formally file

Two people allegedly targeted by former city schools facilities director Steven Raucci formally filed their lawsuit against the school district this week.

Among the allegations in the suit are that the district and school board members were told of vandalism and threats from Raucci but did nothing about it.

“On multiple occasions, the SCSD superintendent and the president of the Board of Education were informed by multiple employees that Raucci was engaged in a pattern of illegal behavior that was targeting [the Grays’] home and that school vehicles and employees were involved in assisting Raucci perpetrate his conduct,” the suit reads.

The suit goes on to allege that then-school board president Jeffrey Janiszewski “later remarked that he wouldn’t want to be on Raucci’s bad side because he might ‘blow him up,’ ” which the suit says is an apparent reference to explosive devices Raucci is accused of using.

The suit, however, provides no context for the alleged statement, including where and when it was made or how the Grays or their attorneys learned about it. The reference also does not appear to have been included in earlier filings.

Neither Eric Ely, superintendent of schools, nor Janiszewski are named specifically as defendants.

The Grays’ attorney, John Hoke, did not return calls for comment Thursday.

The suit had been expected since an October decision to allow them to sue, but only over one specific alleged incident.

A school district spokeswoman declined to commenton the suit; Janiszewski did not return a phone call for comment.

Raucci, 61, of Niskayuna, faces a 26-count indictment, accused of planting bombs, vandalizing homes and intimidating people to curry favor with higher-ups and solidify his power.

He is accused of placing incendiary devices at four homes around the Capital Region, including one in Schodack. Two of the devices exploded. No one was injured. He is also accused of damaging the cars and homes of people who disagreed with him, slashing tires, damaging paint or damaging windshields. The Grays reported their car or home being vandalized five times, the last four days before Raucci’s arrest.

Raucci’s trial is set to begin March 1. He remains in jail without bail.

The Grays, their son Ryan Rakoske and the victim in an alleged Schodack attempted bombing, Laura Balogh, all tried to convince a judge last year to allow them to sue, despite missing a crucial deadline.

The judge allowed the Grays to sue, turning back the others on the deadline grounds. But the Grays could only sue on the alleged vandalism of their home Feb. 16, 2009, days before Raucci’s Feb. 20, 2009 arrest.

At least three other lawsuits from other plaintiffs have previously been filed. At least 11 people have sued or tried to sue the district.

The Grays’ lawsuit was filed Wednesday in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County. It names the school district and Raucci as defendants.

The suit alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence in supervising Raucci and negligence in retaining Raucci.

The lawsuit recounts how the Grays allege they became targets of Raucci. Raucci was Harold Gray’s supervisor between 2003 and his retirement in 2005. Previous filings have indicated that Gray retired because of threats by Raucci.

Those alleged threats came after a Jan. 11, 2005, letter was sent to the CSEA, describing Raucci’s leadership of the local unit as being similar to “an organized crime family” and describing harassment of members and illegal activities.

Raucci assumed Deborah Gray wrote the letter, but she didn’t, the suit reads.

The suit cites four earlier vandalism incidents at the Grays’ property but specifically cites the last one, Feb. 16, 2009, in which yellow paint was sprayed on their door.

The suit also cites other incidents in which Raucci allegedly used district vehicles and employees to harass and intimidate the Grays, including phone calls and personal threats.

Previous filings alleged that Rakoske saw school district vehicles take employees in a caravan to the Grays’ Saratoga County home to exhibit the damage from one vandalism incident May 1, 2005.

Janiszewski and Human Resources Director Michael Stricos were made aware of that incident but did nothing, according to the earlier filing.

“No preventative action was ever taken by the SCSD to prevent Raucci from using SCSD resources to damage [the Grays’ property] and prevent the harm that was caused,” the suit reads.

“Instead, Janiszewski intentionally ignored Deborah Gray’s information and never took any action to investigate, discipline or remove Raucci, but rather continued to increase his authority … with knowledge that Raucci was dangerous and posed a threat to other individuals’ physical safety.”

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