'Leftist lie': Attorneys say Northeastern principal will tell his side
A hearing for Northeastern principal Scott D'Orazio, accused of denigrating the Black Lives Matter movement, will be open to the public, the district's solicitor confirmed.
And, according to D'Orazio's attorneys, he's ready to tell his side of the story.
D'Orazio allegedly posted a video to his private Facebook page calling the movement a "leftist lie," which was reposted by a group on Twitter in early June and caused Northeastern Superintendent Stacey Sidle to later call for his firing.
D’Orazio is represented by attorneys George Margetas and Edward Paskey. Margetas is also a member of the West York Area school board.
In a joint statement Tuesday afternoon, Margetas and Paskey said the upcoming hearing would be in person and not over Zoom.
"The decision makers and Northeastern community deserve to hear from Scott. Since the very outset, Scott has been forbidden by the district to speak to the media about the allegations against him.
"He will continue to abide by this directive. However, the conversation about his actions, character and future has been completely one-sided with Scott not being afforded the opportunity to adequately respond. The public hearing will provide him with that chance."
Northeastern School District’s solicitor, William J. Zee, confirmed that the Shallow Brook Intermediate School principal, through counsel, elected a hearing and asked for it to be public.
A date for the hearing had not yet been scheduled, but Zee said recently it would likely take place in mid-to-late July. Zee could not be reached Tuesday for additional comment before deadline.
The district requested the hearing following the posting of the video that called the Black Lives Matter movement a “leftist lie” to D’Orazio’s private Facebook page.
That post was then shared on the Twitter account “We See What You’re Doing” on June 4.
That happened amid nationwide protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.
A Change.org petition calling for D'Orazio's resignation and an apology from the school board for previous inaction had 858 signatures as of about 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Margetas, when reached Tuesday, said his client chose a hearing before the public because he wants all the evidence to come out and be heard.
“He doesn’t want to hide in the shadows,” Margetas said. “He doesn’t feel that he did anything wrong.”
Northeastern's school board authorized the administration to summon D'Orazio for the hearing after the superintendent recommended his firing.
The district alleges that posting the video was “outside the scope of his employment,” Margetas said, and though he could not comment on whether he agreed with that statement, he said D’Orazio was within his general First Amendment rights to post on his private page.
“I don’t think the school has grounds to fire him,” he said.
D’Orazio has been working in education for at least 10 years, also working as an assistant principal for Red Lion Area School District from 2013 to 2016, according to his LinkedIn page.
Margetas noted D'Orazio's experience and said he shouldn’t be judged by one act that Margetas believes was mischaracterized.
“People need to look at the totality of who Scott is before passing judgment on him,” he said.
D’Orazio was also criticized last year by a member of Northeastern’s nursing staff who filed a complaint against him alleging verbal harassment and a hostile work environment that made her feel anxious and unsafe.
District officials denied several of the claims, including a claim that they never investigated those issues. The case was settled out of court in November.