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Jordan-Elbridge Assistant Superintendent William Hamilton responses to charges filed against him

Jordan-Elbridge Assistant Superintendent William Hamilton responses to charges filed against him

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Published by The Post-Standard
The Jordan-Elbridge School District on July 9 suspended Jordan-Elbridge. The district has refused to release its charges against Hamilon, saying education law prohibits the release.
The Post-Standard has obtained the charges from Hamilton’s lawyer. These are Hamilton's defenses to the district's charges.
The Jordan-Elbridge School District on July 9 suspended Jordan-Elbridge. The district has refused to release its charges against Hamilon, saying education law prohibits the release.
The Post-Standard has obtained the charges from Hamilton’s lawyer. These are Hamilton's defenses to the district's charges.

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Published by: The Post-Standard on Nov 01, 2010
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{W0165160.1}
O’Hara, O’Connell & Ciotoli
- Response to 3020-a Charges Page 1
Hamilton (“Hamilton”) is the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance of the Jordan
-
Elbridge Central School District (the “District”).
Although he is tenured, he was suspended onJuly 7, 2010 without the filing of Charges. On August 2, 2010, he commenced an Article 78proceeding which eventually forced the Board to file 3020-a Charges. Although the Board statesthat it made a finding of probable cause on the Charges on August 18th, they were not receivedby Hamilton until August 25th.We understand that the persons largely responsible for preparing the Charges were Danny Mevec
(“Mevec”)
at $125 an hour and the Internal Auditor,
Alicia Mattie (“Mattie”)
, at $48 an hour,and that the primary sources for the allegations contained in the Charges were Mattie and Paula
VanMinos (“VanMinos”).
Moreover, the Superintendent of Schools, Marilyn Dominick, who is
Hamilton’s immediate supervisor 
refused to sign the Charges. They were signed instead byMary Alley
(“Alley”)
.Most of the Charges are factually incorrect in one way or another or they allege petty, non-consequential acts. In either event, they reflect an incredibly sloppy job of investigation.
CHARGE ONE
Charge One alleges that Hamilton committed
immoral
conduct in connection with quotes for treeservice work on
the Jordan Campus. Hamilton’s preference was to award the work to
CayugaTree Service, LLC
(“Cayuga”), a
n Elbridge company if, in fact, the District decided to proceedwith the work. VanMinos did not agree that the work should go to Cayuga, and it appears thatshe complained to Alley and/or Mevec
who then ran with it. First, Hamilton was confrontedwith accusations of improper conduct in an ambush meeting with the Superintendent, Ms. Alleyand the Board Vice-president. Second, it was the subject of an illegal reprimand given toHamilton in violation of the tenure laws. Finally, this is the paramount allegation by the Boardin the Charges.The truly incredible fact is that no tree service work was ever authorized. No Purchase Orderwas issued and not one cent was spent for the tree removal project. Thus, this charge is
not 
aboutmisconduct, or any act committed by Hamilton. It is purely about what VanMinos claims wassaid in a discussion between the two of them.The specific allegati
ons of Charge One, and Hamilton’s responses, are summarized below:
 
1.
 
The June 2009 Quotes
In Hamilton’s opinion,
tree removal work is a professional service that requiredspecial skill and experience and is, therefore, exempt from the competitive biddingrequirements of General Municipal Law § 103. Thus, a Request for Proposals
(“RFP”) process was all that was required, and the District was not bound to accept
the lowest quote.
 
 
{W0165160.1}
O’Hara, O’Connell & Ciotoli
- Response to 3020-a Charges Page 2
The District obtained quotes to remove some trees and brush along the third base lineof the varsity baseball field on the Jordan Campus in 2009. Four tree servicecompanies quoted
from $10,000 to $21,200. Cayuga’s quote was $13,000
andTreelanders Tree Service
(“Treelanders”)
quote was $10,000.No contract was awarded in 2009 be
cause of the District’s financial condition and
uncertainty as to state aid. The District encumbered $10,000 in the 2008-2009 budgetand carried it over to the next fiscal year as part of the
District’s Reserve for 
Encumbrances.
2.
 
The Fall 2009 Direction from the Board 
In fall 2009, a different contract for tree service work on the Elbridge Campus wasawarded to Treelanders. Chris Sandstrom, the owner of Cayuga, wrote to the Boardto ask why the District did not award work to local tax paying companies wheneverpossible.The Board clearly agreed with Sandstrom. It informed Hamilton that he should givepreference to local companies whenever possible and financially justified.
3.
 
The 2010 Updated Quotes
In April 2010, the District requested updated quotes for the Jordan Campus work.The scope of the work had changed. Now,
all
trees along the 40 foot wide swathadjoining the baseball field were to be removed, and no trees were to be saved.
Cayuga quoted $14,790. Treelanders’ quote remained at $10,000 de
spite the changein scope. Bartlett quoted $21,200.
4.
 
The Meeting with Chris Sandstrom at the Site
Hamilton and Lou Barbaglia, the District’s
head of maintenance, met with ChrisSandstrom at the Jordan Campus to be sure there was no confusion as to the scope of the work.At that time, Hamilton asked Sandstrom how low he could go on the price to performthis work. Sandstrom replied that he might be able to do it for $11,500. Hamiltonasked Sandstrom if Cayuga could do the work for $10,000, and Sandstrom said
“No.”
Hamilton then said somethi
ng like “
 I understand 
” or “
okay
.
That is all that was said. There was no agreement that Cayuga would be awarded thecontract, and Cayuga did not commit to do the work for the $11,500 figure.
5.
 
The Claim by VanMinos
The allegation is that Hamilton directed VanMinos to award the contract to Cayuga.Hamilton will testify she is either lying or misunderstood what he said to her.
 
 
{W0165160.1}
O’Hara, O’Connell & Ciotoli
- Response to 3020-a Charges Page 3
He and VanMinos
did 
have a discussion in which VanMinos challenged whether thecontract could be awarded to Cayuga. During that conversation, Hamilton told herthat (a) she was not the District Purchasing Agent, so that the decision was not hercall or her responsibility; (b) the work required professional services that did not haveto be competitively bid; (c) the Board had been informed about the project last spring;(d) the Board wants to contract with local companies taxpayers possible; and (e) nofurther communication was necessary beyond an FYI to the Board.
Hamilton’s short discussion
with VanMinos was academic. In fact, the Districtcontinued to hold off on this discretionary project since the District was about to layoff several employees.
 Hamilton never directed VanMinos to award anything toanyone
.The Charge also alleges that, after VanMinos refused to issue the Purchase Order,Hamilton said to her, "
 Never mind - I'll have Fred do it,
" referring to Fred Weisskopf.That discussion never happened. Fred Weisskopf is an on task, no nonsense guy. If he had been asked, he would have immediately issued a Purchase Order to Cayuga.
6.
 
The Alleged Retaliation against VanMinos
 
The Charge alleges that,
 
after VanMinos refused to award the bid, Hamilton retaliatedagainst her by (a) refusing to speak to her, (b) not including her in meetings, (c) andnot informing her on matters that she was working on for the District.This allegation is silly. The conversation between Hamilton and VanMinos regardingCayuga is alleged to have occurred on Wednesday, May 26th. As discussed below,Hamilton was ambushed by the Board president and vice president regarding the treeservice quotes and the alleged retaliation on June 1st. Monday, May 31st was aholiday (Memorial Day). This meant that these alleged acts of retaliation would havehad to occur over a two day period.In fact, Hamilton spoke with VanMinos when he needed to speak with her, andincluded her in meetings when she needed to be included. He did not believe it was aprudent use of resources for her to be involved in every conversation he had or toattend every meeting he participated in.In this regard, Alley with Mevec, attended a meeting involving the capital project onJune 29th that Hamilton and the Clerk of the Works were more than competent tohandle. However, Alley insisted that VanMinos be present at the meeting. (One hasto wonder what Alley and Mevec were planning at the time).
7.
 
The Ambush Meeting in Early June, 2010
It is alleged that Hamilton
was evasive and then became belligerent
when he wasquestioned about the Cayuga quote at the June 1, 2010 ambush.When Dominick informed Hamilton that Alley had ordered the meeting, she also toldhim that she did not know what it was about. The meeting turned out to be anunannounced, on-the-spot and in-your-face inquisition of Hamilton that was

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