NYC hiring of ex-Newburgh school superintendent sued for sexual harassment sparks outrage
The decision to hire a former Newburgh school superintendent for the same top job in the Bronx, while he’s being sued for workplace sexual harassment, is sparking outrage in the community.
Dr. Roberto Padilla was hired this week for the role of Bronx District 7 school superintendent.
He spoke during an online forum for the District 7 community in May as one of three candidates before he was hired.
“I’ve worked in some of the most challenged places and have had success on multiple levels,” said Dr. Padilla
Fifty miles north, not everyone is convinced he’s right for the job.
“My clients are really furious,” said Alex Burke, an attorney representing Una Miller and Elizabeth Walsh - the two women who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Padilla.
Berke says two separate investigations found Padilla engaged in misconduct while he was superintendent of schools in Newburgh and that her clients were forced to quit after coming forward while Padilla was given a six-figure “golden parachute” deal to resign.
“I don’t understand how District 7 could feel as though they’re getting someone whose focus is on safety when we have these very real complaints about him,” said Berke.
Miller and Walsh released a joint statement saying, “We are shocked that the New York City public schools, Chancellor Banks and Mayor Adams are putting their trust in Roberto Padilla after his conduct that compelled us to file a lawsuit against him. We previously trusted Padilla, and our careers were derailed because of it. The students, families and educators of the Bronx and District 7 deserve better than Padilla, who we saw firsthand create a culture of fear and intimidation. We advise the city to re-evaluate this important decision.”
At least one Bronx resident raised similar concerns in an online, public meeting before Padilla was hired.
“I would like to know why Dr. Padilla resigned from the City of Newburgh. The paper says he’s under investigation and our community deserve better,” said the resident.
Padilla wasn’t allowed to respond and someone else later said the accusations were unfounded.
The decision has sparked outrage on social media with dozens of comments questioning the hiring.
Padilla will continue to receive his six-figure salary from Newburgh under his exit agreement until November 2023.
New York City put out a press release praising a new round of newly hired school superintendents, including Padilla, as “committed to the community, children and teachers they serve.”
News 12 reached out to the New York City school system for comment but have not heard back.
Padilla officially begins his new role in the Bronx July 1.