Solicitor faces new restrictions following comment at Erie Rise Leadership Academy hearing

Local News

After a comment stirred considerable debate at an Erie School Board meeting, the board and district take action.

The Solicitor representing the Erie School District has been removed from working on any future charter school matters.

The Erie School District’s Solicitor, Tim Sennett, made a comment regarding the test scores of students at the Erie Rise School, which has now sparked the attention of the community.

That comment sparked outrage at Wednesday nights non-renewal hearing for the Erie Rise Leadership Academy Charter School. The derogatory comment immediately infuriated the crowd, which was mostly parents and supporters of the charter school. It also caused one community leader to call for a deeper look at the administration.

“Administrators, or the people who are conducting the meeting, because of their inability to grab control of that kind of issue, it only points to the potential opportunity for the explosion around racial issues that are still paramount in our community today,” said Gary Horton, President, NAACP.

The Erie School District would not answer our questions about Wednesday nights incident. The only response came in a written statement which said, “Recent comments by one of the Attorney’s representing the District were inappropriate, and in no way reflect the administrations or the school board’s beliefs, or the kind culture and climate we are working to foster. He will no longer represent the district on charter issues.”

The district went on to say Attorney Sennett may continue to represent the school district on other matters.

“We, the School Board, will have a conversation with Knox Law Firm, and see how we should best approach Attorney Sennett’s employment with us, regarding our individual cases, whether it is charter school, or otherwise. That decision has not been made yet,” said Thomas Spagel, Director, Erie School Board.

Knox Law Firm also commented on the matter in a statement that reads, “The comments made last evening by one of our attorneys at the Erie Rise Charter School hearing, for which he has publicly and privately apologized, were inappropriate, out of character for him, and do not represent the community values this firm has embodied for more than six decades.”

The Solicitor did later apologize in that meeting, but only after he was encouraged to do so. We have reached out to Erie Rise, but they stated that at this time they have no comment regarding the matter.

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