Updated 10/04/2011 09:59 PM
Jordan-Elbridge Superintendent responds to court ruling in J-E's favor
The unpopular decision by the Jordan-Elbridge Board of Education to appeal a couple of court rulings is now turning out in their favor. The New York State Appellate Court has overturned a previous ruling and sided with the board in its decision to fire district treasurer Anthony Scro. Our Katie Gibas was in Elbridge to get reaction from the district.
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ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- It's hard to forget the controversy that rocked the Jordan-Elbridge School District last year, but things have quieted down and are moving in the right direction.
"This school board wants to be a good school board. They've taken a stance in the community even when it's been extremely unpopular. They've taken positions that have cost them friends, that have cost them endless nights of sleep," said Jordan-Elbridge Superintendent James Froio.
One of those unfavorable stances was choosing to appeal a court decision that ordered the board of education to reinstate fired district treasurer Anthony Scro with back pay and attorney's fees. And it turns out, despite how unfavorable, that was the right decision. That's according to the New York State Appellate Court, which unanimously ruled in favor of the board of education's decision to fire Scro. The ruling states that Scro failed to file his oath of office on time, therefore, automatically vacated the office. It also says that under the definition of the job, the treasurer serves at "the pleasure of the board."
"The board of education is charged with safeguarding the best interests of the district. I think they did that definitely with the position that they took although it was unpopular at the time," said Froio.
Jordan-Elbridge Superintendent James Froio says the decision by the courts is not just important for this district, but it also sets a precedent for districts across the state.
Froio said, "School boards are ultimately responsible for the financial welfare of the school district and obviously they need to have input and control over their own treasurers."
But Scro's lawyer says the decision has negative implications across the state.
"The broader impact of the decision is that it removes protections for any school district treasurer, who is charged with safeguarding taxpayer funds, where that treasurer finds fault with improper actions of a board of education. We believe that the decision is a loss for the taxpayers," said Scro's lawyer, Dominic D'Imperio, in statement.
The board president says even with their own legal fees, the district's appeal still saves them money because they will no longer have to pay Scro's back salary or attorney fees.
There are still a number of legal proceedings pending for the Jordan-Elbridge School District. Even though they're appealing a decision that they violated open meetings laws, they're voluntarily complying with the mandatory training anyway. State officials will be educating the board on open meetings laws Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Jordan Community Center.
We have reviewed the Appellate Court’s decision and though the Court opined that what the District did was “legal”, the court’s opinion does not mean that what the JE board did to Anthony was right. Unfortunately, in our opinion, it gives the Board the license to treat him in a shabby, mean-spirited manner because of his association with Bill Hamilton. The broader impact of the decision is that it removes protections for any school district Treasurer, who is charged with safeguarding taxpayer funds, where that Treasurer finds fault with improper actions of a board of education. We believe that the decision is a loss for the taxpayers and, in that sense, the decision is regrettable.
We will analyze the decision and decide shortly on future action.