Orange County DA: Probe into Newburgh School Board ‘just beginning’
The Newburgh Board of Education remains under criminal investigation and intense scrutiny after giving their superintendent a six-figure sum of money to resign during a sexual harassment scandal.
It’s now apparently trying to fire an outspoken board member for publicly criticizing the deal.
The BOE has a history of remaining silent when it comes to controversies. In 2019, no comment was given after the district was found guilty by a grand jury of forging student athlete attendance records.
The start of this school year was no different when the sexual harassment case involving the same superintendent at the helm was kept under wraps. The board and district ignored News 12’s requests for comment while Dr. Roberto Padilla was suspended and noticeably absent.
It wasn't until the findings of the investigation were leaked and Board of Education member Darren Stridiron spoke out as a concerned citizen that the public became aware of secret plans to pay Padilla six figures to resign, rather than move forward with a hearing to find out if he was guilty.
Richard Desderio, a district teacher and whistleblower in the 2019 forgery scandal, called Stridiron “a hero for standing up for these women.”
While the public is now demanding transparency, the board is apparently retaliating against Stridiron for speaking out. On Friday, they voted to remove legal protections for members who speak about the board or district and emailed Stridiron after the meeting with plans to fire him.
The school district's attorney, David Shaw, said by text Tuesday that there is no action currently pending by the board against Stridiron.
News 12 reached out to District Attorney Dave Hoovler about the investigation into the Newburgh School Board, which he said is "just beginning."