NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks appointing a South Bronx superintendent who’s been accused of sexual harassment is “unacceptable and insulting to all victims,” locals pols railed in a letter on Wednesday.
Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala and six other Bronx elected officials called out Banks and the Department of Education for selecting Roberto Padilla as the new District 7 leader a few months ago.
“How does a city that strives for diversity, equity, and equal protections for all, justify designating an individual with multiple sexual harassment allegations, to care for our children and their educators,” reads the letter, obtained by The Post.
Padilla, previously a superintendent in Newburgh, in the Hudson Valley, is a named defendant in a civil suit filed by two former, female educators accusing him of workplace harassment and retaliation.
The DOE hired Padilla in June as part of a systemwide shakeup requiring all district bosses to reapply for their jobs.
The pols asked the department to reconsider Padilla’s appointment to the district and submit a formal report to the City Council on its hiring practices and processes.
“How in the world did the New York City Department of Education deem this man to be acceptable to lead District 7?” reads the letter, signed by councilmembers Althea Stevens, Amanda Farías, Pierina Ana Sanchez and Eric Dinowitz, as well as assembly members Latoya Joyner and Natalia Fernandez.
Councilwoman Ayala told The Post she only issued an official protest to Padilla’s appointment after weeks of behind the scenes discussions with the chancellor’s office over the summer.
She said she urged Banks to withdraw Padilla’s appointment as superintendent of the school district serving her constituents — and he refused.
“There’s a problem with DOE’s vetting. This guy’s behavior was inappropriate. It’s the Andrew Cuomo scenario,” Ayala said, referring to the ex-governor being forced out over sexual misconduct claims, though he wasn’t criminal charged. She said she believes in due process, but noted a school district investigation in Newburgh had substantiated some of the allegations.
While the civil suit against Padilla is ongoing, the Orange County District Attorney Office said in May it would not bring criminal charges following an investigation, due to lack of evidence.
Former Newburgh elementary school principal Una Miller, 41, and high school English teacher Elizabeth Walsh, 36, accused Padilla of sexual harassment during a work trip to San Diego in August 2021. They alleged he touched them inappropriately and made comments that resulted in the women feeling “uncomfortable,” “scared” and “horrified.”
The two women escalated complaints of inappropriate behavior to a workplace harassment and retaliation lawsuit this spring in Orange County Supreme Court, naming Padilla, the Newburgh school district and school board as defendants.
After a report was made to district human resources, Padilla was suspended and later awarded a resignation deal. The financial agreement allows Padilla to continue collecting a $279,000 salary from the Newburgh public schools through November 2023 — on top of what he will be paid for his new gig in the Big Apple.
“We want to thank the NYC leaders who are standing up for students, teachers and families,” Walsh and Miller said in a joint statement to The Post.
“We were shocked to learn of his appointment, but our dismay at the decision hasn’t lessened our resolve to hold Padilla, the Newburgh School District and Newburgh Board accountable for the harassment and retaliation we’ve suffered.”
Padilla has still not answered the civil lawsuit, despite being properly served and missing his deadline to reply, according to the Newburgh educators’ lawyer, Alex Berke of Berke-Weiss Law based in Beacon.
The Department of Education did not immediately return a request for comment.