Four of the nine members of the Newburgh Board of Education abruptly resigned on Friday.
Newburgh Board of Education President Darren Stridiron (letter), Vice President Deborah Bouley (letter) and members Renee Greene (letter) and Jerry Ryan Lamar (letter) each submitted their letters of resignation on Friday, February 2.
Stridiron, a member of the board since 2014, was elected board president in July 2023. He has often been a vocal critic of the school administration and of several of his fellow board members.
“The fact is that the current majority (the five remaining board members) and the administrative leadership will not allow me to function in my capacity as a board member,” Stridiron wrote in his resignation letter.
“The last few months have been filled with abuse and attacks on my character,” he continued. “The public and private attacks are documented in the three filings that I have sent to the Commissioner of Education. They can all be Foiled by requesting all filings made by Darren Stridiron for SED Appeal No. 22003. The constant abuse, lies, deceit and attacks were all coordinated and designed by the current board majority and the administration. I have been physically threatened and recently threatened by the Superintendent via an email filled with complete lies against me. The charges filed by and approved by the majority 5 of the board are complete fabrications designed to humiliate me and destroy my reputation.”
Lamar, who ran with Stridiron during the 2022 election season, was set to serve through June 2025. Bouley, who won her seat in the 2023 election, was set to serve through June 2026.
The five remaining board members are Philip Howard, Mark Levinstein, Letitia Politi, Ramiro Burgarelli and John Doerre. Howard and Levinstein’s terms expire June 30, 2024; Doerre’s on June 30, 2025; and Politi and Burgarelli’s on June 30, 2026.
Each of the resigning members wrote exit statements that discussed concerns such as the direction of the district by the administration, questions unanswered on educational matters and lack of transparency with the public.
“The main reason is that I don’t agree with the direction that we’re heading. The common goal/focus should be on ensuring that all students are receiving the best possible education, and that those who are entrusted with educating them have the support they need to effectively provide that education to them! However, it appears to me that the main focus has depreciated, and a climate of chaos and distrust has replaced it,” said Greene in her statement.
“There are nine elected members on the NECSD Board of Education. It takes a quorum, or majority of five votes to have something pass or fail. This Board’s majority includes two new members who promised voters they would never allow contract extensions to senior management but did just that after getting elected,” said Bouley in a statement.
“I want to state clearly that it is my informed opinion that the Newburgh Enlarged City School District Board of Education is not providing oversight of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. The entire structure of the board has been altered, power has been given away, and oversight duties have been abdicated. I warned my colleagues on the board not to vote to do so. The seriousness of their actions, I believe, will be realized by everyone in the months ahead,” said Lamar in his statement.
“For those of you that have not followed the minute-by-minute action of the school board, you need to know that many of the duties of the school board members involve oversight of the Superintendent. That oversight requires that we as Board members are informed about all the aspects of the district. We need to be current on the details of the finances, educational programs, buildings, and grounds, etc. Whenever one of the 4 board members in the minority asks questions via email or at board meetings, the Superintendent refuses to answer the questions. With the majority 5 of the board allowing this, they are literally preventing us all from our oversight of the Superintendent,” said Stridiron.
“Many of the duties of the Board President have been overtaken by the Superintendent with the approval of the majority 5 board members. I have added items to the agenda only to have them removed. I have worked with the Board attorney and Vice President to organize our first Board retreat only to find out that the Superintendent organized one herself and invited all the building administrators. Plans were being made to rent a party venue and have it catered. All without the Board’s knowledge or permission. This was supposed to be a Board retreat. It happened again just a few months later,” he continued. “The narrative spun by the leadership of the administration has been designed to make the public think that I have overstepped my authority and hindered the day-to-day duties of the Superintendent. That lie has been laid bare in my filings with the Commissioner and all those documents are open to the public. Full transparency has always been important to me and vital to the public knowing the truth. You need to read it for yourself to know that you have been misled for months about what has been happening here. The Board attorney has made it clear that no matter what the Superintendent says publicly or privately, the district will cover any legal costs caused by her words.”
The school district, via District Clerk Matthew McCoy released the following statement late Friday afternoon. “The district has received letters of resignation from four Board of Education members: Mr. Darren Stridiron, Ms. Deborah Bouley, Ms. Renee Greene, and Mr. Jerry Ryan Lamar, effective immediately, Friday, February 2, 2024. The Board of Education is a collective body of its members and the board requires at least five members present to conduct its business. As such, the five remaining members will continue to conduct business and follow the established policies and protocols of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District.”
The board was scheduled to conduct a special meeting to choose new leadership Tuesday.