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Published by: liz_benjamin6490 on Jul 11, 2012
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STATEOFNEWYORKSUPREMECOURTCOUNTYOFERIEIntheMatteroftheApplicationofCARLP.PALADINO,
Petitioner,
IndexNo.12012-2145ForaJudgmentPursuanttoArticle78againstLOUISPETRUCCI,asamemberoftheBoardofEducationoftheBuffaloCitySchoolDistrict,ROSALYN
L.
TAYLOR,asamemberoftheBoardofEducationoftheBuffaloCitySchoolDistrict,MARYRUTHKAPSIAK,asamemberoftheBoardofEducationoftheBuffaloCitySchoolDistrict,JOHNLICATA,asamemberoftheBoardofEducationfotheBuffaloCitySchoolDistrict,FLORENCEJOHNSON,asamemberoftheBoardofEducationoftheBuffaloCitySchoolDistrict,JASONMcCARTHY,asamemberoftheBoardofEducationoftheBuffaloCitySchoolDistrict,SHARONBELTON-COTTMAN,asamemberoftheBoardofEducationoftheBuffaloCitySchoolDistrict,DR.BARBARASEALSNEVERGOLD,asamemberoftheBoardofEducationoftheBuffaloCitySchoolDistrict,andTHEBOARDOFEDUCATIONOFTHEBUFFALOCITYSCHOOLDISTRICT,
Respondents,
ShannonM.Heneghan,Esq.MoseyPersico,LLP625DelawareAvenue,Suite304Buffalo,NewYork14202
AttorneyforPetitioner
KarlW.Kristoff.Esq.HodgsonRuss,LLPTheGuarantyBuilding,140PearlStreet,Suite100Buffalo,NewYork14202-4040
AttorneyforRespondents
 
SIWEK,
J.,
MEMORANDUMDECISIONThisMemorandumDecisionaddressesPetitioner'sapplicationforaJudgmentpursuanttoArticle78againsttheBoardofEducationoftheBuffaloCitySchoolDistrict,etal("Board"),declaringthatthedecisionoftheBoardtoappointDr.PamelaBrownasSuperintendentnullandvoid;anorderdeclaringthedecisiontoexecutetheTransitionAgreementwithDr.PamelaBrownnullandvoid;anorderdeclaringthecreationandfundingofapositionofconsultantforDr.PamelaBrownnullandvoid;anorderdeclaringtheactionsoftheRespondentstobeinviolationoftheOpenMeetingsLaw,includingbutnotlimitedtotheaforementionedandtheRespondents'failuretoproperlyconveneexecutivesessions;anorderawardingreasonablecostsandattorney'sfees;andanorderrequiringRespondentstoparticipateinatrainingsessionconductedbythestaffoftheCommitteeonOpenGovernment.Bywayofbackground,theOpenMeetingsLawisbasedonapresumptionofopenness,andmeetingsofpublicbodiessuchastheBuffaloBoardofEducationmustbeopentothepublicexcepttotheextentthatthesubjectmatterunderconsiderationmayproperlybediscussedduringanexecutivesession.Thosematterswhichmaybediscussedinexecutivesessionarespecificallydefinedin§105oftheOpenMeetingsLaw,ConductofExecutiveSessions.Section105(1)specificallyrequiresthat:Uponamajorityvotetakeninanopenmeetingpursuanttoamotionidentifyingthegeneralareaorareasofthesubjectorsubjectstobeconsidered,apublicbodymayconductanexecutivesessionforspecificallyenumeratedpurposesallowedbystatute,providedhowever,thatnoactionbyformalvoteshallbetakentoappropriatepublicmoneys.Section105(1)(f)allowsapublicbodytogointoexecutivesessiontodiscuss:2
 
(f)themedical,financial,creditoremploymenthistoryofaparticularpersonorcorporation,ormattersleadingtotheappointment,employment,promotion,demotion,discipline,suspension,dismissalorremovalofaparticularpersonorcorporation.
June13,2012Meeting
OnJune13,2012,theBoardvotedinanopenandregularlyscheduledmeetingtoconductanexecutivesessionforthepurposeofdiscussing"apersonnelmatter".Petitionercontendsthatthestatedpurposeforenteringintoaclosedexecutivesession,ie.fordiscussionofa"personnel"issue,didnotsatisfytheOpenMeetingsLawrequirement.See,
Gordon
v.
VillageofMonticello,Inc.,
87N.Y.2d,207A.D.2d55(3dDept.1994)(rev'donothergrounds)87N.Y.2d124.Weagreethatsimplystatingthatthesubjecttobediscussedisa"personnel"matterisinadequate.Apropermotionshouldhavebeenbaseduponthespecificlanguageof§105(1)(f)andwouldhaveapprisedthemembersoftheBoardandpublicthattheBoardwasmovingintoanexecutivesessiontodiscuss"theemploymenthistoryofaparticularperson(s)...ormattersleadingtotheappointment,employment...ofaparticularperson..."pursuantto§105(l)(f).Thus,boththemembersandthoseinattendancewouldhavebeenapprisedthattherewasaproperbasistoenterintoanexecutivesession.See,
N.
Y.
StateComm.OpenGovernment.AG,
2941and2966.PetitioneriscorrectthattheteclmicalrequirementsoftheOpenMeetingsLawwithrespecttoproperlystatingareasonduringtheopensessionastowhytheBoardwasmovingintoacloseddoorexecutivesessionwasviolated.However,RespondentscontendandPetitionerdidnotdenyatoralargumentthattheBoardwaswellwithintheirrightspursuanttotheOpenMeetingsLawtoconsiderthe"contractualdemandsandexpectationsofthefinalists,andtoweighthesedemandsandexpectationsagainsteachofthecandidates'experience"inexecutivesession.(See3

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