Public Outcry

CASSADAGA – Thomas Schmidt has been the interim superintendent at Cassadaga Valley Central School for four days and he already has his hands full with questions of lawsuits, dress codes and inappropriate behavior between a teacher and student.

Community members packed the multipurpose room at the high school Monday night for the school board’s first regular meeting since the sudden resignation of former superintendent Scott Smith and paid leave of high school principal Dr. Tara DiDomenico last week.

Although there were questions about Smith and DiDomenico, the board declined to answer them.

“Is there a lawsuit against the district? Where will the money to pay for that come from?” asked a concerned parent who declined to be named.

“The district is under what the attorneys tell us we can say,” Schmidt said. “We’re going on legal counsel.”

Cassadaga Mayor LeeAnn Lazarony, who was in attendance along with several students and parents, questioned the inappropriate workwear she says she has witnessed at the school.

“Is there a dress code policy for teachers?” Lazarony asked, to which board President S. Carl Perry replied, “There is not one specifically.”

“I would like the board to consider enforcing a dress code policy,” Lazarony said, to which the room applauded.

After these discussions, the room began to chatter when a parent asked the board whether or not a female teacher who has allegedly acted inappropriately in and out of school will resume employment at the high school in January.

“We’re not going to speak to anything like that,” Perry said.

Audience members became upset when they did not receive a definitive response. The board said they would be discussing the matter in executive session which caused an uproar.

Chairman of the board David Christy spoke out among the voices.

“We run a monthly meeting, and usually there’s administration, maybe one member of the press and one other person.” Christy said over the noise. “Where has everybody been?”

“I’m not blaming anyone. We’re not hiding. You’re welcome to come here,” he added, saying he’d like board meeting dates and times to be publicized and better attended.

After the public question and answer session, the board resumed the meeting’s agenda, which did not take long. Schmidt finished the meeting prior to executive session with a short address.

“You’ve asked a lot of good questions, and as you can see, we’re also tied as to how we can answer those questions,” Schmidt said, suggesting those who want to talk can call his office. “I’m here to bridge this gap between now and when the district hires a new superintendent.”