School board seeks ouster of its president

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 10/11/23

The Newburgh Enlarged City School District Board of Education has filed a petition for the removal of Board President Darren Stridiron.

The action came after a 5-0 vote by school board members …

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School board seeks ouster of its president


The Newburgh Enlarged City School District Board of Education has filed a petition for the removal of Board President Darren Stridiron.

The action came after a 5-0 vote by school board members at a special meeting on Saturday, October 7. Neither Stridiron nor board members Deb Bouley, Renee Greene and Jerry Ryan Lamar were present at the Saturday special meeting.

The verified petition, which identified the district board of education against Stridiron, was submitted by Board of Education Attorney David Shaw. Four charges of “Willful Neglect of Duty as Board President and Trustee for a Wrongful Purpose” were brought against him. The charges listed instances that occurred during the meeting on September 12, 2023.

The first charge discussed disclosed executive session matters involving a district employee, later identified as Richard Desiderio, who was suspended with pay in late September. Stridiron expressed his reasoning for not voting for the suspension as Desiderio was granted protections as a district whistleblower.

Desiderio, a tenured teacher within the district, was identified as the whistleblower back in 2016. This was when the Newburgh district came under review for attendance record irregularities.

The second charge addressed comments made about the Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jackielyn Manning Campbell with her performance.

The third charge expressed comments about newly elected board members changing their positions, further stating they had been “wined and dined”.

The final charge addressed the seating arrangements of the board president and school superintendent that were changed at the Annual Organizational Meeting in July. District precedent has seen the board president and school superintendent seated side by side. Since becoming school board president, Stridiron has opted to have the district clerk seated between him and the superintendent, a move the district says dimished Manning Campbell’s “professional status as superintendent.”

Prior to the final vote on Saturday afternoon, Board member Mark Levinstein asked Shaw who would make the final decision if the resolution were voted forward. “This is a petition to the commissioner of education, so the commissioner will decide it,” said Shaw.

No comments were made by the board members and district leadership at the Saturday meeting.

Stridiron, reached for comment after the meeting, claimed that the filing was in violation of a confidentiality clause.

“I will fight these false allegations with everything I have,” he said via email.

Stridiron first joined the board in 2014 and was elected board president in July of this year, following a 6-3 vote at the district’s annual re-organization meeting. During his tenure, he often clashed with fellow board members and the school administration and survived at least one previous attempt to have him removed from the school board.

In 2021, he opposed a buyout package offered to former District Superintendent Roberto Padilla, who had been accused of improper conduct toward several district employees earlier in the year. He had also sought unsuccessfully to have an investigator’s report of the incident made public.

He has also initiated litigation against the district, once for $45 million for allegedly delaying release of transcripts of his college-bound son. Twelve different charges were brought in the lawsuit but were brought down to three. According to Stridiron, he and his family offered to settle the suit for $25,000 in October 2021, which was not taken by the district.

This past spring, he sought reimbursement from the district for transporting another child to a school in Millbrook. He described his younger child as “non-verbal autistic” and was attending a school in Millbrook. He sought reimbursement of $2,270.75 but was told he was only entitled to $750.