NYC hiring of former Newburgh school principal 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 is 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 at an online forum for the District 7 community in May as one of three candidates before being hired.

“I’ve worked in some of the toughest places and been successful on so many levels,” said Dr Padilla

Fifty miles to the north, not everyone is convinced he’s made 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 complaint against Padilla.

Berke says two separate investigations found Padilla at fault while superintendent of Newburgh schools and his clients were forced out after coming forward while Padilla was given a ‘golden parachute’ deal six figures to quit.

“I don’t understand how District 7 could feel like it had someone focused on safety when we have these very real complaints about him,” Berke said.

Miller and Walsh released a joint statement saying, “We are shocked that New York Public Schools, Chancellor Banks and Mayor Adams trust Roberto Padilla after his conduct that forced us to take legal action against him. We used to trust Padilla before, and our careers were derailed because of that. The students, families, and educators of the Bronx and District 7 deserve better than Padilla, who we’ve seen 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 town hall before Padilla was hired.

“I would like to know why Dr Padilla resigned from the town of Newburgh. The newspaper says he is under investigation and our community deserves better,” the resident said.

Padilla was not allowed to respond and someone else later said the charges were unfounded.

The decision sparked outrage on social media with dozens of comments questioning the hiring.

Padilla will continue to receive his six-figure salary from Newburgh as part of his exit deal until November 2023.

New York City issued a press release praising a new batch of newly hired school superintendents, including Padilla, as “committed to the community, the children and the teachers they serve.”

News 12 contacted the New York school system for comment, but did not hear back.

Padilla officially begins his new role in the Bronx on July 1.

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