Board of Education Votes to Remove Member
The Rush-Henrietta Board of Education voted 6-1 to remove Douglas J. Rivers from his seat during its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, August 11, 2020. Rivers was appointed by this same board in December 2019 to fill an open seat created by the resignation of Robert L. Cook. Rivers was elected to a three-year term in June 2020.
In New York state, a board member may be removed from office either by the commissioner of education or the local school board. The removal of a board member is allowed when a board member has engaged in a willful violation or neglect of duty, or the willful disobedience of a law or a decision, order, or regulation of the commissioner or rule of the Board of Regents.
Such a removal may take place only after a hearing on the charges either before the Board of Education or the commissioner of education. The board member must be afforded a “full and fair opportunity to refute such charges before removal.” That opportunity occurred during an executive session held by the Rush-Henrietta Board of Education in July 2020.
Mr. Rivers may choose to appeal to the state commissioner of education within 30 days. For that reason, a plan to seek a replacement is not yet being announced. Neither the district nor members of the Board of Education are able to elaborate on this decision in light of a potential appeal.
Update: Based on some of the speculation making the rounds since last night, the following additional information is being made public.
Neither the Rush-Henrietta Central School District, nor members of the Board of Education, will be commenting in detail given the possibility that this decision may be appealed.
That said, this was a difficult and painful decision. Following a formal hearing, and after carefully considering the evidence presented both for and against Mr. Rivers, the remaining members were unanimous in reaching a decision to remove him from the Board of Education as a result of finding that he improperly divulged confidential information.