4 Newburgh BOE members suddenly resign, citing slew of problems with superintendent, remaining members
There was a stunning turn of events for the Newburgh Enlarged City School District Friday after four Board of Education Members suddenly resigned, citing a slew of problems with the district superintendent and remaining board members.
President Darren Stridiron, vice president Deb Bouley, and members Ryan Lamer and Renee Greene all stepped down, effective immediately.
They each wrote resignation letters citing several serious problems with superintendent Jackielyn Manning-Campbell and five remaining board members - Ramiro Burgarelli, Letitia Politi, John Doerre, Mark Levinstein and Philip Howard.
“Just when we thought that we had at least five good, honorable people that would bring reformation and rebuilding, the bubble burst,” wrote Stridiron. “Many of the duties of the board have been overtaken by the superintendent with the approval of the majority five board members.”
Stridiron, who was newly elected board president last year, has been at the center of much controversy since September when the board accused him of leaking information during proceedings surrounding a district whistleblower and then experienced backlash following his proposed level 3 sex offender ban.
In October, some board members filed a complaint to the Commissioner of Education to remove him from his seat. Stridiron called the move “abuse, lies, deceit” and coordinated “attacks,” in his exit letter.
The group allege Manning-Campbell and the remaining board members are purposely interfering with transparency and district oversight, and refuse to recognize failed systems.
“We are operating on the same basis we did before, in which the obsession with image supersedes the duty to recognize failed systems. This reduces the powers of the board to act appropriately as a check and balance,” wrote Lamar. “This is exactly what got us to the place in which our tax dollars were squandered to pay for failed leadership. The public voted for transparency to avoid this. This was an opportunity to build trust that was not taken.
Other concerns focused on student education and policy.
“We have hundreds of students at the high school who cannot read at more than an elementary reading level,” wrote Bouley. “No one on this board, other than the majority four members of which I am one, have made any effort to get them screened and taught to read properly. We have children whose absences are not reported to child protective services by the district. We have no coordinated system to report absences to authorities; we have a current, chronic absenteeism rate at almost a third of our approximately 12,000 students.”
They say the treasurer also recently resigned and that district financials are being kept secret and are now requesting the state step in.
“Questions about financial disclosures and policy issues have gone unanswered,” said Greene. “How can a rational decision be made on the upcoming budget if we don’t have the necessary information to vote?”
A representative for the district tells News 12, “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.”