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Judge rules JE's interim superintendent appointment void

Judge Donald Greenwood ruled Sue Gorton's announced appointment as interim superintendent of JE Schools void in State Supreme Court yesterday, citing the district's violation of the Open Meetings Law. The suit was filed by JE Principle David Zehner, who was later put on paid administrative leave.

"It's not that she isn't qualified for the position the issue is that the board didn't do it legally," Zehner told the Observer on Thursday.

Zehner said he gave the board the opportunity to hire Gorton the right way before he took the board and Gorton to court. He first notified the board that they were in violation of the Open Meeting Law in an Aug. 3 letter, following Gorton's announced appointment on July 30.

According to Zehner's affidavit, the board did not respond and minutes from the Aug. 4 and 18 board meetings indicate that no discussion of the issue took place.

Zehner said the board had the chance to put Gorton on a meeting agenda twice in September, but failed to do so. He noted that Gorton was introduced as the interim superintendent during a faculty meeting on the first day of school.

Zehner first questioned the board's appointment because it was one of many decisions being made improperly, he said. These included the board's paid suspension of tenured administrator Bill Hamilton July without immediate charges, the forced transfer of Janice Shue from Elbridge Elementary principle to a newly created special projects position -- without a public job description -- 15 months ago, and the Sept. 15 firing of Anthony Scro, a Civil Service employee, on what Zehner saw as "very iffy grounds."

Zehner, a tenured administrator at JE, was put on paid administrative leave Sept. 20. He suspects his suspension was in response to his suit against the board, because "they haven't given me any other reasons."

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