Lawyer Fees For Trustee Accused of Misconduct Not Being Paid For By District

Susan Agruso says the district is not covering attorney fees for trustee under investigation.

District Superintendent Susan Agruso said the district is paying only the cost of the attorney that is investigating the allegations and is not paying attorney fees for the board trustee being investigated.

"That attorney is not being paid for by the district,” Agruso told Patch. “The district is paying for the lawyer who is conducting the investigation, that’s all."

Neither the board nor the district has confirmed who that trustee is and have said that doing so would interfere with the investigation.

Jay Worona, General Counsel and Director of Legal and Policy Services for the New York State School Boards Association, said that generally speaking, the district would not cover the expense of a lawyer in a case such as this.

“Generally I don’t think they would be defended. It would be contrary in interest to the board."

Robert LaRusso, the attorney investigating the allegation, said if the trustee is found to have shared information with a third party, the commissioner of education would make the final decision and that the removal of a trustee from the board is left to the commissioner and not the board.

“The board is not going to make the decision. It wouldn’t be right, generally speaking, for one party to make a decision about someone that is part of their own group,” said LaRusso. “The commissioner will make the determination whether or not it was confidential. It will rest with the commissioner of education.”

According to LaRusso, once an allegation is made, the board has 30 days in which to submit it to the commissioner.

“There is a request that when an allegation is brought, you have 30 days to bring it before the commissioner."


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San Remo June 08, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Although the district is not currently paying for the accused lawyer in cases where other districts have had similar investigations it is possible the accused can be reimbursed for their own lawyer fees by their district so in the long run this could be very costly to the distrcit.
Will Schneider June 08, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I intend absolutely no disrespect to you San Remo, but frankly we elected the Board of Ed with the faith that they know/would learn the laws, and they hired a lawyer who is paid to know the laws. I'd rely on their word sooner than anonymous hearsay.
San Remo June 08, 2012 at 06:31 PM
What does my post have to do with the BOE knowing the laws etc. All I'm stating is that the accused could very likely be reimbursed for her lawyer fees. Something the article does not state. And if you did not know all districts around us that has faced this problem in the past has immediately gone thru the commishioner's office and not hired a lawyer which could cost the district 100's of thousands of dollars. This is a witch hunt and the person involved has it out for the BOE member b/c she doesn't vote in favor of the majority. Call it hearsay but the town knows the facts. Very few agree with TDJ and her people!!
Will Schneider June 08, 2012 at 08:03 PM
You have no data to support your claim that it will cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is hearsay. Besides that it just appears to me that you're trying to start fires. I make no comment on the subject of the investigation. All I'm saying is that you're making claims you can't back up.
San Remo June 08, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Easily could cost the district 100K+. The lawyer fees are 350 an hour and they did not hire an education lawyer instead they hire a big shot criminal mob case type lawyer when they did not have to spend any taxpayer money. They could of went thru the commisioner of education in the first place and it wouldn't cost us anything. He gets the final say anyway. That is what districts do in this type of case. I know plenty of facts and that is why I am so outspoken on what is going on. Just b/c the accused was not on board with the majority she is being attacked. Just like Steve Weber was. That is the reason he did not seek re-election. Because honest people's jobs were being threatened. Any decent person who knows what is going on and has a heart knows what is going on is a witchhunt. Maybe you need to be educated on how these people have been operating. The children should come first!! And the money should go to them!!
Phil C June 08, 2012 at 09:14 PM
@San Remo Perhaps you may consider educating YOUR self; 1) Legal fees is more proper in conversation than "lawyer fees" 2) "Through" is the proper spelling of the word. 3) Commissioner, not commishioner 4) At a fee of $350 per hour, for 24 hours a day, for the 2 weeks from the last board meeting to the next one, the cost would total $117'600. Not only is that unrealistic, its laughable 5) You cannot start a sentence with the word "And." That is a clause, not a sentence. @Will Schneider: Don't feed the trolls buddy, its more of a headache than its worth.
Albert Noesei June 09, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Barrett's attorney John Bracken of Islandia-based Bracken, Margolin and Besunder said the charges are unfounded and he expects he will win the case for Barrett. "I'm comfortable that when this plays out that the district will wind up paying our attorneys fees," he said in a phone interview Friday. The report is expected to be given Tuesday. Should be interesting to see. What an embarassment for an already dismal BOE/District.
San Remo June 09, 2012 at 04:52 AM
yea i cannt spelll but at least i know right from wrong. I don't care if the bill is 10 buxs it is money we are wasting. I called the commis of ed. and he said that cases such as this are always directed to his office. You can call or check the website and look at similar cases. This is 100% waste of money. It is a witch hunt! Keep supporting TDJ and her cronies so kids in our district can suffer. That's the reality of this sad situation. While you are focused on my grammer I am focused on the future, our children.
San Remo June 09, 2012 at 04:55 AM
$117,600 unrealistic yet the newspaper says it could easily cost 1MILLION. That was for both lawyers so do the math even if we are paying for 1 side.
Phil C June 09, 2012 at 12:21 PM
You continue to beg the question. Show us some evidence San Remo. All you've done is whine and complain, saying you know everything. Show us some evidence. Show us a news report, give us reason to believe a word you say. You've said the exact same thing now 3 times on this one blog but you have yet to say anything credible. This is not a witch-hunt, it is an accusation. A witch-hunt is when a group of people systematically examine a group of people to find which one did something wrong. That is not what this is. I said from day one that I want to see what the lawers have to say, and I still stand there, but what I see from you isn't a rational argument, its childish. I correct your grammar because I have, and I still REFUSE TO COMMENT ABOUT THE POLITICS. I have no side in this argument. I don't trust the Smithtown News because last week they flat out picked sides. I have seen nothing anywhere to suggest that anything you say is more than just a child's temper tantrum. Show the evidence, or quit trying to bring me into an argument.
Phil C June 09, 2012 at 12:25 PM
1) Because as soon as someone writes something, it must be true. Tomorrow, researchers in Massachusetts will clone an army of saber-tooth tigers. 2) Do your math. $117'600 is 350 an hour FOR 24 HOURS A DAY FOR 2 WEEKS. That IS laughable. Do YOU work that much?
mary wellbourne June 09, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Is it not to funny that new names show up and old ones disappear---let's see no Giulliana but a new Will Schneider. Sounds the same, probably looks the same and are probably the clones of TDJ. Oh we don't clone humans yet---so guess what it's really TDJ
Will Schneider June 09, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Excuse me? I'm not anonymous. I'm a member of this community the same as you. http://kingspark.patch.com/articles/high-school-senior-will-schneider-renaissance-man I'm that guy. Don't accuse me of being anybody I'm not. I use my real name and I'm not afraid to.
San Remo June 09, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Will you obviously don't know enough of this situation. Why don't you ask Mr. Weber if he did not seek re-election because honest people would of lost their jobs. Honest custodians. If the same people that are accusing Mrs. Barrett are the same people that threatened Steve Weber. The reason why TDJ filed these accusations was because Nally won. Do you want to see it in fine print when she posted online that she was running up to the lawyer to file these baseless claims. It was all b/c she was mad that Mike Kelly did not win. You seem like a smart kid. If you learn more about the situation and still take the same stance you have now, I'd be shocked. Call the Commish of Ed ask him if the BOE hiring a lawyer is proper protocol. Ask him how this is usually taken care of.
Linda Henninger June 09, 2012 at 04:38 PM
… and what a wonderful young man you are – I know how proud your parents are of you.
Will Schneider June 09, 2012 at 06:09 PM
I know plenty enough about this situation that I am keeping my opinions to myself. All I have commented on is YOUR PERSONAL comments. My stance is that I can't trust a word you say. I have made ZERO comments about both Mrs Barrett, AND Mr Weber, and I will continue to make ZERO comments about them. I have my personal opinions and I am entitled to them, as you are yours. My personal opinion is that you intend to incite anger in the community, but you refuse to do so under your own name. Posting anonymously you can say whatever you want and not have to pay the social cost of potentially being wrong. I'm not saying you're wrong either, I'm just saying that you will accomplish nothing by making everyone angry. I am a recent alumnus of what I consider to be a wonderful school district and community, politics aside. One thing I learned here is that all statements are false until proven true; if you have no factual source for anything you claim it is assumed false- my point is that I can't trust a word you say about other districts unless you have data to support it, let alone your testimony about any and everything else. That is your opinion and you are entitled to share it publicly, but I am of the opinion that you accomplish nothing by pushing your politics on me. I think I would like to see the result of the investigation before I make an opinion. That is my stance.
mary wellbourne June 09, 2012 at 06:16 PM
I apologize Will, it seems that you are well on your way to be a good citizen. I hope you understand the frustration that the BOE has caused this town and Liz Barrett. They were aware of certain actions taken by Barrett for some time but waited till right after the election to announce their intentions to hire a lawyer who specializes in criminal law (Gotti). In mostly all scholl districts the board investigate and comes to a decision and if they find fault they send into the state. Now we are paying a lawyer to give us answers that our boe should have performed. Sorry that I am so down on the board but I feel they did not do their duty and it is costing the taxpayers and a lot of us do not have extra money. I did read this article and I did read the Commissioner's web site that shows mostly all cases have the lawyer reimbursed from the school district. Good Luck in the future Mary
Will Schneider June 09, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Mary- I appreciate your apology and your well reasoned response. Thank you, for a bit of decency amongst other rather rude comments. I am in turn sorry for attacking you.
San Remo June 10, 2012 at 12:30 AM
The reason I post anonymously is 100% because I feel the people responsible for going after Barrett would go after my job. That is the honest truth. I am not trying to push politics on anyone. I can respect how you stand. I just feel the truth should come out. The taxpayers deserve that. I might not be the right person to do this because I am very passionately against the majority BOE members but I am doing nothing but trying to expose the truth of the situation.
Benjamin Franklin June 12, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Let's see if any of the whiners and complainers feel strongly enough to come out in the rain tonight and attend the board meeting. Should be interesting to hear what the lawyers have to say.
mary wellbourne June 12, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Dearest Ben, I will be there to watch our money flying out of the budget to a lawyer that was not needed. You can bet on it that the verdict will be what the three board members wanted but needed a lawyer to firm it up for them. It then will move to Albany where she will be exonerated but the district will be out the money. Then the real problems start Motherway leaves, the board is split two/two with Mr.Leo acting as THE GREAT COMPRIMISER---that was Henry Clay in your time Ben. Then next year the BOE will have elections and we will see another new face on the board. Mr. Leo be Henry Clay not Benedict Arnold till than.
Albert Noesei June 13, 2012 at 12:17 AM
If anyone goes, post an update as to what they actually come out with. Should be interesting.
San Remo June 13, 2012 at 04:26 AM
If you were not able to see the meeting when the accusations were presented from the BOE I recommend you watch them online. http://www.metacafe.com/fplayer/8602520/may_29_2012_p4.swf http://www.metacafe.com/fplayer/8602519/may_29_2012_p5.swf
San Remo June 13, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Liberty June 16, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Read the article then read the Smithtown News. then answer this question did someone with a high paying job who is looking for a 7% raise put their foot nin their mouth.


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