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What you need to know for 01/20/2018

School district reaches deal over refusal to release Raucci documents

School district reaches deal over refusal to release Raucci documents

The school district has come to a settlement with The Daily Gazette and the Times Union newspapers o

The school district has come to a settlement with The Daily Gazette and the Times Union newspapers over its refusal to release emails and other documents in the Steven Raucci case.

Raucci, a school employee, was convicted last year of 18 charges, including arson, for placing bombs on the cars and homes of his enemies and the enemies of his friends. Three of the victims were school employees embroiled with Raucci over issues ranging from control of the union to whether lights could be used on the sports fields at night.

The school board paid $13,000 for an investigation to determine whether administrators knew of Raucci’s acts of intimidation. The district refused to release the report, then agreed to make about one-fourth of it public. But about 140 pages of attachments, on which the conclusions in the report appear to have been based, were kept secret.

The newspapers sued to get the full report in 2009. Judge Barry Kramer ruled that the district did not have to release any of it.

Both newspapers appealed. Now, the school board is ready to settle.

A resolution about the settlement is part of tonight’s agenda that was posted on the district’s website. The resolution offers no details except to say that the settlement was accepted “in order to avoid the expense and uncertainty of further litigation.” The school board will vote on it tonight.

Board President Cathy Lewis said she did not know the details of the settlement.

Gazette Managing Editor Judy Patrick said the newspaper’s attorney had advised her not to talk about the substance of the settlement before the vote.

Also tonight, the school board will hold a public hearing on the $153.6 million budget, which cuts spending and does not increase taxes. District residents will vote on the budget, and on three board members, on May 17.

Tonight, the board will also vote on whether to accept Assistant Superintendent William Roberts’ retirement. Roberts’ job was eliminated in next year’s budget, but he had hoped to stay with the district in some capacity.

When the decision to eliminate the assistant superintendents was made late last year, Roberts argued that he has 26 years experience as a principal — four years in elementary school and 22 years at a middle school — as well as experience as a high school teacher. He also spent 15 years training administrators. He hoped that experience was worth keeping.

But he has now asked to retire, effective May 6. He will take home a sizable buyout; he saved up $11,364 in accumulated sick and vacation leave.

The district also eliminated the position of the other assistant superintendent, Matthew Weinheimer, but he had already planned to retire this summer. Weinheimer said the reorganization would help sort out what he called a “confused situation” in which administrators often spend their time on tasks unrelated to their job description.

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