The Kings Park Board of Education voted Tuesday evening to approve hiring a lawyer to investigate an allegation that a current board member exposed confidential information to a third party.
Board president Bill Motherway read a statement indicating that they were seeking outside counsel to assist in the investigation.
“There are allegations that a current member of the board violated general municipal law, section 805-a (1) (b), by exposing confidential school board information to a third party. We are taking these allegations very seriously and are hiring outside counsel to assist us in an investigation,” said Motherway, reading from a prepared statement.
Trustee Marie Goldstein, Tom Locascio and Motherway voted in favor of the hire. Steve Weber voted against the motion and trustee Liz Barrett, abstained. Barrett then made a statement.
“I won’t respond to these baseless allegations at the request of my attorney,” she said. The names of the parties involved or details of the allegations were not released by the board.
One audience member said that recent behavior at board meetings were "setting a poor example" and others said they had a right to know about the expense associated with retaining a lawyer.
Attorney, Robert LaRusso, who was hired for the investigation was on hand to answer questions and after some debate disclosed that the retainer was $350 an hour at a total cost not to exceed $10,000, which according to Motherway would require further approval of the board.
District Superintendent Susan Agruso said the board is obligated under the law to conduct an investigation. According to LaRusso, under the law, the details of the allegations cannot be disclosed, but after the investigation is completed if there is a need to disclose it publicly, then it can be disclosed.
“They have to hire an outside party, independent of the board,” said Agruso "That person hired is usually someone with a law background." Agruso said the decision to hire was made by the board and not the administration.
LaRusso said that these were "just allegations" and that it was "critical to spend time to investigate it properly."
"This was brought to us, we have a duty to investigate and that is what we’ve done," said Motherway.
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