Hearing postponed for Northeastern principal in BLM 'leftist lie' case
A public hearing for a Northeastern school principal accused of sharing a social media post referring to the Black Lives Matter movement as a “leftist lie” has been postponed until September.
The hearing was postponed because of scheduling issues, the school district's attorney said, and it might or might not be held in person, given recent restrictions imposed in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
District officials had previously said the hearing was expected to take place in July.
Right now, the state is under orders by Gov. Tom Wolf to not hold gatherings indoors with more than 25 people.
Both the district's solicitor and George Margetas, one of the attorneys for Shallow Brook Intermediate Principal Scott D'Orazio, said when reached Monday that the specifics of the format of the hearing are still being worked out.
“There is a lot of uncertainty with COVID,” Margetas said, but the two sides are trying to set up a public meeting that complies with those restrictions.
Penalties could include D'Orazio's firing, should the school board come down against him.
The meeting had formerly been planned for mid-to-late July, but scheduling was complicated by the need to accommodate the meeting arbitrator, two attorneys for the principal and the school schedule.
“It’s not easy finding a date that works for everybody,” Margetas said.
D'Orazio allegedly shared a video on his personal Facebook page denigrating the Black Lives Matter movement, leading the district's superintendent to recommend his firing — which would be determined by a hearing before the board.
“Given the opening of school and the schedules of the parties, it was mutually agreed by the parties to hold the hearing in September,” said William J. Zee, the solicitor for Northeastern.
D'Orazio had requested the hearing be public, his attorneys said, noting that he wanted to tell his side but had been under district orders not to speak to the media.
“He doesn’t want to hide in the shadows,” Margetas has said. “He doesn’t feel that he did anything wrong.”
A Twitter account, “We See What You’re Doing,” shared D’Orazio’s post on June 4 and tagged him, asking why he wouldn’t share the message on his school-associated social media.
That happened amid nationwide protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.
The original post as well as D'Orazio's school-associated Twitter account was deleted.
A Change.org petition calling for D'Orazio's resignation, an apology from the school board for not taking action sooner and more diversity measures in the district had 886 signatures as of Monday.
Several people spoke out at a subsequent board meeting on June 15 about the inappropriateness of the post, especially given that D’Orazio holds a leadership position overseeing students of color.
"Anyone who can stand there and do that does not deserve to be in front of our children," said resident Brandi Wiafe at the meeting.
No formal date has been set for the hearing, Zee added.