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Erie school superintendent under fire, off work

Tech worker charged with secretly recording their conversation

ERIE – The Erie school superintendent, whose relationship with the district's seven-member board has grown increasingly contentious, apparently may be fired, and another district employee is facing felony charges, accused of secretly taping and sharing a conversation with him.

Superintendent Marty Felesena has not been at work since Aug. 26, district officials said. The school board recently issued a statement indicating board members are willing to seek mediation in the dispute, the substance of which has not been made public.

In what may be a related event, William F. Patton, 43, a school district technology technician, was charged Aug. 8 with two counts of eavesdropping, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison.

According to Whiteside County Court records, Patton recorded a private conversation with Felesena on July 2, without notifying Felesena he was doing so, and on July 11, Patton emailed information from that conversation to some board members.

How or if that case is related to the board's apparent decision to replace Felesena has not been made public.

The substance of the conversation and the information Patton shared with school board members is not part of the public court record, and Erie School Board President Chad Miner has not yet returned an email Tuesday seeking comment.

Patton is free on a $10,000 recognizance bond, and has a hearing Sept. 23.

The school board, which usually meets the fourth Monday of the month, recently held two special meetings, on Aug. 5, on Sept. 3, the latter of which was attended by more than 100 people.

At the end of that meeting, at which several audience members spoke about what they characterized as the board's lack of transparency and mistreatment of Felesena, members issued this statement:

“The board is directing the district attorney to contact the superintendent’s attorney to see if they are willing to engage in mediation in an effort to continue our relationship. While we cannot share more specific information at this time, we hope to issue a joint statement with our superintendent in a few days.”

No statement had been issued as of Tuesday.

To attend

The Erie School Board next meets at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 23 in the Erie High School media center, 435 Sixth Ave. Go to ecusd.info for an agenda and more information.

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