The board and its lawyers characterize the second removal attempt as ugly.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Several parents are again asking a court to remove members of the Girard Board of Education from office.
Petitions seeking their removal were filed Wednesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. The case has been assigned to Judge Andrew Logan. No hearing date has been set.
Second time: This is the second time the parents have filed a petition to have the board members removed. The first petition was dismissed by Judge W. Wyatt McKay earlier this month because the judge ruled that the petitions were not properly filed.
The judge agreed with defense attorneys who cited case law that a recall petition has to spell out the specific complaint against elected officials.
This was not the case with the petitions circulated in Girard because the complaint was on a separate piece of paper, signed only by attorneys.
Sebastian Rucci, the attorney representing the parents' group, noted that this time the complaint was attached to the petitions, and the complaint was signed by 1,612 petitioners.
"The purpose in refiling is the same now as before -- to hold elected officials accountable for their misdeeds in office," Rucci said. "Without the removal power, which is provided for in the Ohio Constitution, the parents of Girard with children in schools are simply left to wait out the term of their elected official; this wait is too long considering the flimsy attitude to the children displayed in the past and the arrogance displayed most recently."
Response: Attorneys Lou Damiani and Bruce Zaccagnini, who represent the board, said they believe there is no merit to the complaints.
"Since Sept. 11, this nation has been suffering through a series of tragedies," Damiani said. "It is sad that a small group of petty, spiteful individuals have consumed the past seven days of their lives pursuing such foolishness."
The parents filed the complaint because they say the board members didn't inform parents about reported health problems at the intermediate school.
In a prepared statement issued Wednesday afternoon, board members said they understand the concerns, pointing out that they, too, are parents and taxpayers.
"Contrary to the claims of these petitions, we, as a board, have addressed the parents' concerns from the first day they became known.
"From the beginning, we have acted responsibly. The parents know that. Their lawyer knows that.
"Still, they continue to rattle sabers and have asked for a public flogging of the Girard School Board members.
"This has become a very ugly public spectacle," the board stated. "Many of the protesters have less than honorable intentions ..."
School was closed: The school was closed in May, and work is being done to correct problems with the ventilation system and carpeting. School officials have said it will not reopen until they are satisfied it is safe.
Rucci also filed a motion asking the judge to grant him special status to practice law in his court. Rucci is not licensed to practice law in Ohio. He has his license in California and in federal court in Ohio.
Rucci said he has moved to Ohio and plans to take the bar exam here soon.
Damiani says he is going to file a motion asking Judge Logan to deny Rucci's request.
"He is a counterfeit lawyer," Damiani said. "He is giving people bad advice. We will vigorously oppose his motion."