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Employment status of NFA principal unclear for now

November 28th, 2012

Despite reports that Maxine Nodel was fired from her job as executive principal of Newburgh Free Academy (NFA) earlier this week, Superintendent of Schools Ralph Pizzo says there has been no official change in her employment status.

Maxine Nodel

Nodel declined to comment Tuesday, instead directing calls to her attorney, Michael Sussman. Sussman, meanwhile, would not provide a specific reason for his client’s alleged dismissal, but confirmed that she was given the news during a meeting with school district officials Monday morning.

Pizzo did not directly address the claim at press time; he would only say that Nodel is currently on leave due to a death in her family.

While he could not say for sure if Nodel had been fired, Newburgh Teachers’ Association President Art Plichta did describe several “troubling” situations involving the executive principal that led some members of the union to complain to school district officials. One was that she used profanity during a September faculty meeting.

“It was totally inappropriate and it was very offensive to many people,” said Plichta, adding that Nodel also began to single out teachers whom she felt had abused sick days last year.

“It was an abuse of power; that’s how it seemed to us,” he said. “It’s been a very difficult situation for the teachers at the high school who are trying to teach and having to deal with this sort of harassment.”

Nodel, the founding principal of Millennium Arts Academy in New York City, began working at NFA on July 1 at an annual salary of $155,000.

By Jessica Murray

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