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Amityville school board unanimously votes to fire associate high school principal Rodney Wilkins

Rodney Wilkins, former associate principal of Amityville Memorial

Rodney Wilkins, former associate principal of Amityville Memorial High School, was fired by the school board Wednesday, July 8, 2015, after he filed a complaint stating he was racially discriminated against. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Amityville school board voted Wednesday night to fire a black high school administrator who has accused the district of racial discrimination.

Board members at their regular meeting voted 7-0 to approve the termination resolution, ending Rodney Wilkins' employment as an associate principal at Amityville Memorial High School as of Sept. 3.

Wilkins, 53, of Manhattan, was not at the meeting, which was held at Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School.

After the board's vote, Wilkins' attorney said his client would have no comment.

"The board has taken its action and Mr. Wilkins will respond appropriately," said Frederick Brewington.

Instead, he said, Wilkins will focus on the discrimination complaint against the school district he filed June 29 with the state Division of Human Rights.

During public comments after the vote, school Superintendent Mary T. Kelly told the close to 50 people in attendance, "We just simply cannot discuss personnel issues at a public meeting."

In his complaint, Wilkins alleged he was treated unfairly by his superiors on the basis of his race.

He was hired by the district to serve as interim assistant principal in March 2014, then confirmed by the board of education as associate principal in July 2014 at a salary of $135,000.

Much of his state complaint focused on actions allegedly taken by Kelly and Principal Mary DeRose, who are both white. Kelly and DeRose were interims in their respective positions when Wilkins joined the district.

Wilkins has said his appointment was intended to address racial issues at the high school.

In the 2013-14 school year, the most recent year for which records are available, 52 percent of the 759 students were black, 37 percent Hispanic and 9 percent white.

Wilkins has alleged he was left out of planning meetings, belittled in front of his staff, and removed from his office and relocated to a kitchen in the administrative building, according to the complaint.

He also alleged he was expected to meet higher standards than white employees and banned from school property in June, pending the board's decision on his termination.

Wilkins was assigned to work from his home, according to his complaint and a letter from the school district.

Questions about Wilkins' employment and the bias complaint were raised by some in the audience during public comments at the end of the meeting.

Sydney Martin, 57, of Massapequa, asked board members to comment on Wilkins' complaint. After Kelly said the board was legally forbidden from discussing it, Martin asked for an explanation of that policy.

The school district's attorney, Gary Steffanetta then said he had advised board members to avoid saying anything about the firing or the complaint.

"The board is following my advice by not discussing the employment history of an individual or matter that involves pending litigation," he said. "Notwithstanding that an employee may put their history into the public view voluntarily, the board is not at liberty to do so."

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