Two reports commissioned by the Newburgh Enlarged City School District into the conduct of Superintendent Roberto Padilla, currently on a two-year paid leave of absence, will not be made public.
The proposal by School Board Member Darren Stridiron never made it to the table last week. Stridiron, a vocal critic of Padilla, had long sought to make public the findings of two reports into allegations of sexual harassment against the superintendent. Last week he made a motion to add a discussion item to the board meeting agenda that would have resulted in a board vote on the matter.
But the school board quashed the measure by a 6-3 vote.
Stridiron, Shane Henderson and Renee Greene voted in favor of the item (the release of the reports) to be added to the agenda. BOE President Carole Mineo, BOE Vice President Philip Howard, Ramona Burton, Carol Maida, William Walker and Mark Levinstein voted against the motion.
Padilla was initially suspended with pay in August of 2021 amid allegations of improper behavior at a conference in San Diego. The board authorized an investigation into the incident, but only released one heavily-redacted report to the public. On Dec 31, the school board, by the same 6-3 vote, approved an 11-page agreement that calls for a leave of absence with full pay and benefits commencing January 1, 2022 and continuing through November 23, 2023, “unless the Employee secures employment elsewhere prior to that date, in which event his resignation shall become effective on the date of commencement of such other employment.”
At last week’s school board meeting, Attorney David Shaw discussed the beginning of the superintendent search for the school district.
“There’s important timing to a superintendent search. Typically it would result in an appointment in July or in August,” Shaw said. “So if you are going to seriously entertain conducting a search towards that time frame, now is really the time to make the decision.”
Shaw made the recommendation to the board to send out a request for proposal (RFP) for interview consultants to aid in the search.
Newburgh parent Brian Lamar commented on the decision on Padilla and leadership of the board.
“As we [the district] begin to search for a new superintendent, I think we need to review the issues with leadership. The public in the district has had to deal with very paranoid and manipulative leadership without transparency,” Lamar said. “Tonight I’m asking for specific policy language prior to the hiring of a new superintendent that addresses in a firm and lawful manner against sexual harassment, initimidation and subordinate relationships.”
Comments in support of Stridiron followed his being contacted by Shaw on behalf of the board to begin discussion of his removal from the board. He posted the email to his Facebook page.
“I’m asking that you immediately cease from trying to remove an elected board of education member,” Lamar said.
According to Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler, his office “has an ongoing investigation into the matter” and it “is proceeding as expected”.
Newburgh parent Vanessa Nisperos also commented on the board’s recent decisions.
“It is unethical, immoral and unacceptable that such a large allocation of the budget be given without notifying and soliciting input from the public,” Nisperos said. “I additionally asked that the board authorize Matthew McCoy, clerk of the board, to release the unredacted findings from the two investigations of Mr. Padilla to any parent or member of the public requesting it. Additionally I would like to request that this board cease taking action to remove Darren Stridiron.” No action was taken by the BOE on these requests.
Jeffery Woody, a retired NECSD administrator, brought forward his comments to board members about focusing their attention on the students of the district who are falling behind in their learning or who need more educational support.
The Board of Education and Shaw were not available for comments on the board’s vote and the situation surrounding Stridiron’s removal. No actions have been taken by the board for Stridiron’s removal.