'Leftist lie': Black Lives Matter post could cost Northeastern principal his job
The Northeastern superintendent is recommending the school board fire an intermediate school principal accused of sharing a social media post calling Black Lives Matter a "lie."
At Monday's virtual meeting, the school board unanimously authorized the administration to summon Shallow Brook Intermediate School Principal Scott D'Orazio for a hearing before the board.
The hearing would only be open to the public if D'Orazio agrees to open it, and his employment status would be determined by a board vote then, district solicitor William J. Zee said in an email Tuesday.
The time and date of the hearing have not yet been determined, he said.
Zee opened a probe earlier this month after D'Orazio allegedly posted a meme on his personal Facebook page calling the Black Lives Matter movement a “leftist lie.”
He confirmed Tuesday that the investigation is ongoing and D'Orazio is currently on unpaid administrative leave.
When D'Orazio was hired in 2017, his salary was listed at $101,000, according to a board agenda.
The Twitter account We See What You're Doing screen-grabbed and flagged the post on June 4 amid nationwide protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.
"You posted this to your facebook account, why not here? Why not Tweet it from your school? Do Black Lives matter in your school?" a tweet from the account reads, showing a screen grab of the Facebook post and tagging both D'Orazio and Shallow Brook.
The board learned the preliminary results of Zee's investigation Monday evening.
"The superintendent has advised the board of school directors that she believes there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations presented," said board member Vanessa Snell, reading a board resolution.
The resolution noted that Superintendent Stacey Sidle recommends D'Orazio's dismissal.
Members of the board and administration did not respond to questions from The York Dispatch at the meeting.
Attempts to reach D’Orazio for comment have been unsuccessful. He was hired by the district as a principal in 2017. Years before, he worked for the district as an assistant principal.
Nearly 150 people tuned in to the virtual board meeting.
Several community members spoke out against D'Orazio's comments and the district's lack of immediate response to them.
Brandi Wiafe, a district parent, could be seen holding a sign that said "no hate," with several others holding signs standing with her. She said she was protesting the district.
She questioned D'Orazio's stance on Black Lives Matter, asking how anyone could watch George Floyd die and claim that black lives don't matter.
"Anyone who can stand there and do that does not deserve to be in front of our children," she said, also criticizing the board for not speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Morgan Lanzalotti, of York Haven, on the other hand, did not wish to see D'Orazio lose his job. She praised the district and said she'd never seen discrimination in classrooms.
A Change.org petition to the school board that as of 5 p.m. Monday had more than 600 signatures is calling for D'Orazio's resignation and a public apology from him, and from the board for not taking action sooner.
"By saying that Black Lives Matter is a lie, D'Orazio is expressing that the racist incidents and struggles his black students experience do not matter to him," the petition reads.
Afi Belgrave, of Mount Wolf, was one of the signers. As a former student, she remembered "racial slurs and microaggressions littered the hallways" but always thought administrators had the best interests of students at heart.
She said she now questions if she was wrong.
"The administration’s decision not to take action against the callings of a racist tells me I might have been," she said at Monday's meeting.
The petition also calls for more educators of color to be hired to reflect diversity in the district, bias training and safe spaces for students to express concerns about racism.
Tiedra Marshall, a resident and black mother, said children need to see the district as a safe haven, and D'Orazio's comments disregard their safety.
She said there needs to be more than just positive banners around the school, such as diversity on the board.
D'Orazio was accused of verbal harassment and creating a hostile work environment for a member of the school's nursing staff in a 2019 complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Those accusations were not related to race.
District officials denied several of the claims, including a claim that they never investigated those issues. That case was settled out of court in November.