BY REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — The Niskayuna Board of Education has decided not to proceed with any legal action over an anonymous website that gained notoriety during this year’s Board of Education election season.
The website also had been live during one past election. Both times, it has been used to attack specific candidates for the Board of Education. This year’s version focused on Barbara Mauro, the only running incumbent, and Barbara Burgess. Neither was elected.
During a board meeting May 26, impassioned residents used the privilege of the floor to decry the site and ask the Board of Education to pursue legal action. However, after consulting with experts, the board decided that to do so would not fit the district’s mission of focusing on students. The district’s lawyers advised against trying to uncover and pursue the site’s creators.
An official statement by board President Pat Lanotte on the school district’s website noted that “pursuing this further may not be considered a prudent use of taxpayer resources or district time and attention,” and that “The Board has no intention of diverting our focus away from students and student learning to spend more time on this issue.”
“We have lawyers and we pay them to give us good advice,” Lanotte told Your Niskayuna later in a phone interview. “Frankly, it’s a distraction. Going back to our focus on students, we’re moving on as a board.”
Despite not pursuing legal action, the board also issued a statement critical of anonymous websites in general. As many speakers noted at the May 26 meeting, there was an irony involved in the website complaining about a lack of transparency while hiding its operator’s identity behind a private registration service.
“We strongly oppose the use of an anonymous website because we think the people deserve open dialogue,” Lanotte said.