Whistleblower: Concerns over attendance scheme dismissed in Newburgh schools

Richard Desderio, a former Newburgh Free Academy teacher and coach, spoke exclusively with News 12 Friday – one day after his bombshell allegations of forged student athlete attendance records went public in an explosive grand jury report.

News 12 Staff

Apr 5, 2019, 10:05 PM

Updated 1,897 days ago

Share:

Richard Desderio, a former Newburgh Free Academy teacher and coach, spoke exclusively with News 12 Friday – one day after his bombshell allegations of forged student athlete attendance records went public in an explosive grand jury report.
It accuses the Newburgh Englarged City School District of doctoring test scores and student athlete attendance records for years.
Desderio says those students had dozens of absences, so in 2016 he reported his concerns to the principal. He says the complaint was never acknowledged and instead the student's records were changed.
"The girl, her attendance has been completely scrubbed clean. It now looks like she's completely eligible," says Desderio.
He says it kept happening. Desderio showed News 12 the same documents he brought to the district attorney in 2017, and says he found some students had hundreds of absences while all still competing in sports. He says he notified administrators, the board and even the state – but nothing was ever done until he went to law enforcement.
But before long, Desderio was transferred to teach district fifth graders after being brought up on disciplinary charges at least four times and suspended twice.
"It started to dawn on me that we weren't educating these children," says Desderio. "I didn't do anything wrong and thought what I was looking at was horrific and they're trying to fire me while all the same people are coaching and in positions of administration."
While the district attorney’s investigation did not result in any charges, the hope now is that the publicity will force the district to make changes.
"I do think things are going to change because I'm not going to be silent," he says.
Newburgh School District is expected to comment on the grand jury report at a Board of Education meeting next week. So far, the administration has only said that they are reviewing the report and plan to make changes.
The state Department of Education says they're aware of the grand jury findings but wouldn't say if they knew about the allegations before or what, if any, action may be taken against the school.
 
 Exclusive interview with whistleblower on allegations of doctored attendance records in Newburgh
 


More from News 12
1:23
Early voting begins for New York’s Democratic primary

Early voting begins for New York’s Democratic primary

2:13
Mostly sunny weekend weather and low humidity in the Hudson Valley

Mostly sunny weekend weather and low humidity in the Hudson Valley

0:29
Police: 2 arrested for stabbing man in New Windsor

Police: 2 arrested for stabbing man in New Windsor

0:29
Saugerties man convicted of manslaughter for fatally beating man in 2022

Saugerties man convicted of manslaughter for fatally beating man in 2022

2:04
Village of Sleepy Hollow raises Pride flag for first time despite opposition from some residents

Village of Sleepy Hollow raises Pride flag for first time despite opposition from some residents

1:39
Showing support for Ukraine in the Hudson Valley during Yonkers Ukrainian Heritage Festival

Showing support for Ukraine in the Hudson Valley during Yonkers Ukrainian Heritage Festival

0:47
Westchester Medical Center pioneers robotic procedure to help those with severe hearing loss

Westchester Medical Center pioneers robotic procedure to help those with severe hearing loss

0:29
Carmel police warn people about recent car burglaries

Carmel police warn people about recent car burglaries

0:35
Prosecutors: Former Wallkill firefighter sentenced to prison for 2021 arson incident

Prosecutors: Former Wallkill firefighter sentenced to prison for 2021 arson incident

1:47
EXCLUSIVE: News 12 uncovers police data that shows 19 children struck by vehicles in Ramapo in 6 months

EXCLUSIVE: News 12 uncovers police data that shows 19 children struck by vehicles in Ramapo in 6 months

1:28
Officials: 7 people injured, 13 families displaced in Yonkers fire

Officials: 7 people injured, 13 families displaced in Yonkers fire

0:33
Dutchess County Sheriff's Office: Connecticut man killed in Town of Dover crash

Dutchess County Sheriff's Office: Connecticut man killed in Town of Dover crash

1:03
PARENTS: Dutchess County children lost for 2 hours on nightmare bus ride home

PARENTS: Dutchess County children lost for 2 hours on nightmare bus ride home

1:35
Orange County billiard player wins national championship, first competitor from Hudson Valley to do so in 30 years

Orange County billiard player wins national championship, first competitor from Hudson Valley to do so in 30 years

0:23
Democratic Westchester DA candidate Adeel Mirza drops out of race

Democratic Westchester DA candidate Adeel Mirza drops out of race

0:46
Police: 1 killed, 2 injured in East Fishkill collision involving garbage truck

Police: 1 killed, 2 injured in East Fishkill collision involving garbage truck

2:19
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts provides summer entertainment in Katonah

Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts provides summer entertainment in Katonah

0:41
Weather On The Road: Matt Hammer visits New York Boulders stadium

Weather On The Road: Matt Hammer visits New York Boulders stadium

2:33
Food Truck Friday: The Patty Wagon from Freddy's Restaurant in Pleasantville

Food Truck Friday: The Patty Wagon from Freddy's Restaurant in Pleasantville

Is your dad awesome? Hudson Valley tell us why your dad rocks!

Is your dad awesome? Hudson Valley tell us why your dad rocks!