ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Here is an update to News10NBC’s original report on harassment allegations against Rochester City School District Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small.
In a statement Friday, Rochester School Board President Van White said “an internal complaint has been filed against three RCSD employees, including Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lesli Meyers Small, by another District employee.”
At 4:30 p.m. Friday, the superintendent’s communications director told News10NBC the superintendent has no comment at this time.
President White’s statement goes on to say, “the Rochester City School District immediately retained Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP to serve as outside counsel to oversee an independent and thorough investigation of the facts underlying the complaint.”
Woods Oviatt confirmed to News10NBC this morning that the firm was hired to “oversee” the investigation but beyond that, the firm’s stance was to say “no comment.”
School Board Commissioner Willa Powell said she was told about an emergency meeting on Wednesday. The meeting happened Thursday. Powell said she knew nothing of the complaints prior to the meeting and all the information that was shared with her happened in the executive session and is therefore not public information.
When President White spoke to News10NBC reporter Charles Molineaux Thursday night he said it was a harassment complaint.
News10NBC contacted several other school board members who declined to offer a comment.
I spoke to attorney Peter Pullano from the firm Tully Rinckey. Pullano says he has represented people on both sides of these situations.
Brean: “When you’re doing this where do you start?”
Peter Pullano, Tully Rinckey Law: “Like with any investigation I think you start with the person making the allegations. Talk to the individual, find out what the full story is.”
Pullano says these investigations can acquire phone records including calls, emails and text messages.
Pullano: “Were there any other witnesses? Those would be, I think, the next steps. Finally would be the subject of the allegations themselves, in this case, the superintendent.”
Pullano says the superintendent or any target of an investigation is not obligated to talk.
Brean: “Have you or people you work with done investigations like this where you conclude it wasn’t true?”
Pullano: “It certainly can happen. It certainly can happen where there are questions about a story, there are questions about the way it’s being alleged. I was involved in an investigation not that long ago where a witness gave a statement and then the corroborating witness changed their statement and was using the exact same language the original witness was using and to everyone in the room, it started to sound fishy.”
Brean: “Who is the finder of fact here? Is it the investigator or in this instance would it be the school board?”
Pullano: “The school board is going to have the ultimate authority here to do whatever needs to be done once they’ve heard the investigations.”