Rochester School Board squabble continues Thursday night
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Vice President of the Rochester School Board now officially has the board’s legal protection from a fellow board member trying to get her kicked off.
On Thursday night, the board approved a resolution to provide legal defense for Vice President Beatriz LeBron and to indemnify her as she faces demands from longtime board member Willa Powell.
“She continuously, regularly, mistreats her colleagues, at least those that aren’t already aligned with her,” exclaimed Powell, who has had multiple public disagreements with LeBron and who calls LeBron a “bully.”
But Powell says this is a legal matter.
In Tuesday’s board meeting, a process server handed LeBron a notice that Powell has filed a petition with the state education commissioner for LeBron to be removed from the board.
"She willfully disobeyed a directive of the commissioner of education,” Powell said. “And that’s a removable offense.”
Powell’s petition accuses LeBron of "official misconduct" for not going to mandatory racial bias training and, in a Facebook video, refusing to attend the training.
"Commissioner LeBron needs to start acting like she’s a member of the team and not exempt from the rules that the rest of us have to play by,” Powell said.
In a statement, LeBron called the petition a “distraction,” a “stunt” and “frivolous.” On Thursday night she told News10NBC she can’t say more until she talks with her lawyer but, in the public hearing part of Thursday night’s meeting, some teachers took sides.
"Regularly, Vice President LeBron speaks on real issues facing our community and vehemently fights for the real and current needs of our families,” declared teacher Anthony McCabe.
"And I would like to end,” said district employee Kristen French, wrapping up her own comments, “thanking Vice President LeBron for your continued leadership and dedication to our district."
“The absurdity,” McCabe exclaimed, “of board members using legal tactics to address clearly personal disagreements."
"I have always gotten along with my colleagues when they make the effort to get along with me,” Powell insisted.
So is this a personality conflict?
“I don’t know,” Powell said. “Ask her."
Powell said she’s really trying to get the attention of State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa.
“The commissioner of education is watching this district,” she said, “watches every meeting that we have and is fully aware of the dysfunction that we’re experiencing. She cannot ignore it.”
This kind of appeal to the New York State Education Department doesn’t work very often.
The state did remove a member of the Buffalo School Board in 2017. Powell said she tried it once before herself, 12 years ago, but that petition went nowhere.