Utica Superintendent Withdraws Lawsuit Against School Board Members
Utica School District Superintendent Bruce Karam, who is now on administrative leave, has withdrawn a lawsuit against the four board members who voted to place him on leave, according to Attorney Michael Arcuri.
Arcuri, on behalf of accused board members Joesph Hobika, Danielle Padula, Tennille Knoop, and James Paul, asked the judge in Oneida County Court on Friday morning to dismiss the action against the individual board members because they had no basis to sue. Arcuri said that Karam's suit against the individual board members was based on open meetings law, which does not apply to individual boards or committee members.
Judge Scott J. DelConte asked Karam's attorney, Giancarlo Saccipone of the Frank Miller Law Firm in Syracuse, on what basis they justified their lawsuit against the individuals, when the law clearly applies to boards and committees, but not individual members. Judge DelConte gave Saccipone the opportunity to speak with Karam about withdrawing his claim. After a brief recess, Karam went on the record and withdrew his claim against the individual members, according to Arcuri.
Arcuri said they also asked for the case against the Utica School Board to be thrown out on the basis that the action taken by the board to investigate wrong doing by Karam and placing him on administrative leave with pay during the investigation, was reasonable. The judge reserved decision on Friday and will issue a written decision on the matter sometime in the near future.
Karam was placed on administrative leave with pay back on October 18, after members of the school's administration filed a complaint against him citing violations including retribution and the creation of a hostile work environment. Karam called the actions a "personal vendetta" against him by board president Joe Hobika, claiming it was an unfair attempt "to destroy his reputation."
Board members Bob Cardillo and Dave Testa voted against placing Karam on administrative leave, pending the results of an investigation. Board member Don Dawes left the meeting after executive session and did not vote. Karam's lawsuit did not include these individual board members. At the January 24th meeting of the board, all seven members, including Cardillo, Testa, and Dawes, voted to keep Karam on administrative leave, with pay.
Brian Nolan has been the acting Superintendent since the October 18th board meeting.
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