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A district dismayed: JE residents organize in pursuit of answers

A flood of unexplained actions at the top of the Jordan-Elbridge School district's administration has left community members in the dark -- they're upset, and they're ready for answers.

High School Principal David Zehner was put on paid suspension Monday Sept. 20. Bill Hamilton, assistant superintendent for business and finance, was suspended in July and has been receiving a paycheck ever since. Both earn more than $100,000 a year. Janice Schue, former principal at Elbridge Elementary, was forced into a newly created position -- special projects coordinator -- in June.

All of this, and more, comes during a $2 million building project at the school. JE Superintendent Marilyn Dominick, who retires Nov. 1, would not comment on any personnel issues. School Board President Mary Alley did not respond to multiple interview requests.

More than 200 community members gathered for a public meeting Sunday at the Elbridge Firehouse to voice their concerns over the district turmoil and the lack of explanations being given. The meeting was organized by Mary Jo Wick, a JE alumna who has two children in the district. Wick is also a member of the Jordan-Elbridge Parent Teacher Association.

"I believe the most important goal of this meeting is to bring together the facts in a constructive manner," said Wick at the start of the meeting, before introducing Zehner as the first speaker.

Following applause from the crowd, Zehner thanked community members for their recent support in the form of calls, e-mails and Facebook messages. He said he could not field any questions during the hearing on the advice of his attorney, but offered insight into a possible cause for his suspension.

Zehner said that in May he dealt with district lawyer Danny Mevec on a personal legal matter separate from his work with the school in which personal documents were shared with Mevec. When Zehner attempted to retrieve personal documents back from Mevec, Mevec denied ever being his attorney, Zehner said. Mevec allegedly returned the documents only after Zehner brought the Bar association into the discussion.

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