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Sunday, August 27, 2023

The NYC Department of Education Ignores Ethical Rules, Gives High-Paying Jobs to Danika and Shawn Rux

Danika and Shawn Rux

Have you ever heard anyone at the New York City Department of Education tell someone "Do as I say not as I do"?

Perhaps your parent told you that after they did something that they told you not to do.

The NYC DOE has structured its rules of compliance with the laws of New York State so that there is one set of rules for Superintendents, Deputy Chancellors, executive directors, legal, and relatives and/or friends of any of these "officials", and another set for everyone else.

Anyone who is recommended by a person at the Superintendent level or above, or favored "friends with benefits" below the Superintendent level, does not get the mandated vetting by Human Resources (Capital Management, HR, whatever you want to call this office). See the case of David Hay

This hiring process is always kept secret from the public.

At no time do any of the privileged prospective employees submit their name or issue to the Conflict of Interest Board ("COIB"). COIB ethics rules do not apply to them:

"The main purpose of ethics laws lies not in punishing wrongdoing, but in preventing it, not in catching people, but in teaching them.

The Conflicts of Interest Board is the independent New York City agency tasked with administering, enforcing and interpreting Chapter 68 of the New York City Charter, the City's Conflicts of Interest Law, and Section 12-110 of the Administrative Code, the City's Annual Disclosure Law. We hope you'll enjoy learning more about this agency, and government ethics in general, by exploring the tabs on the left and the other offerings on our site.

Through a combination of engaging training, confidential advice, and vigorous enforcement, the Board seeks to prevent ethics questions from becoming ethics problems for public servants. Ultimately, however, integrity in City government rests upon all of us, public servant and private citizen alike. Only when each of us plays his or her part will the public trust inherent in public service be ensured."

I am familiar with this disregard for rules of ethics. In 2013 a principal was served 3020-a charges, and her CSA Attorney was Charity Guerra. During the hearings, Ms. Guerra suddenly quit, in order to take the job of Deputy General Counsel of the NYC Department of Education. I was shown the email sent from Ms. Guerra to this charged principal. In this email, Charity Guerra informed her that she realized her conflict of interest, yet wished her former client the best of luck. No COIB Complaint was filed and no fine was given.

In 2019, however, Ms. Guerra tried to go around COIB, but COIB filed an enforcement action against her, COIB Case No. 2016-932, resulting in a penalty fine of $3,500.

"I acknowledge that, by having the Executive Deputy Counsel for Risk Management and Litigation, who was my subordinate, perform a personal task for me related to the Lawsuit, I used my City position to obtain a private advantage in violation of City Charter§ 2604(b)(3), which states:

No public servant shall use or attempt to use his or her position as a public servant to obtain any financial gain, contract, license, privilege or other private or personal advantage, direct or indirect, for the public servant or any person or firm associated with the public servant."

We can all see that the rules apply to the NYC DOE VIPs only if or when they get caught.

Thanks to reporter Susan Edelman, Danika and Shawn Rux  "got caught". See article in the NY POST below.

NYC DOE hires husband of deputy chancellor in secret promotion deal

By Susan Edelman, NY POST, 

The husband of schools Chancellor David Banks’ newly appointed $265,000-a-year deputy chancellor of leadership scored a high-paying job in the city Department of Education as part of a secret deal to ensure his wife’s promotion, insiders told The Post.

Shawn Rux will be the executive director of the DOE's Office of School Design and Charter Partnerships.

Shawn Rux, the husband of Danika Rux, landed a gig as executive director of the DOE’s Office of School Design and Charter Partnerships starting on September 5, replacing the retiring Daniella Phillips, whose salary was $195,000 last year, sources said.

“It’s the ‘friends and family’ program,” a DOE staffer said sarcastically.

Danika Rux was a DOE superintendent when her husband founded an educational consulting firm, Ruxway Inc., in March 2020. The firm has since collected $253,450 in DOE payments, records show.

Under city Conflicts of Interest Board rules, any public servant whose spouse owns a company that does business with the city must obtain an order granting permission to retain a financial interest in it.

“The board has not issued an order to Danica Rux,” said Carolyn Lisa Miller, the COIB’s executive director.

Miller said she cannot comment on any alleged misconduct by a city employee “until such time as the board makes a final finding of a violation of the conflicts of interest law.”

Chancellor Banks appointed Danika Rux — whom he previously named a “chief of school support” making $222,972 — his deputy chancellor of leadership on Aug. 10. She replaced Desmond Blackburn, a Florida import who quit after a year. The job involves supervising the DOE’s 45 superintendents.

Before her latest promotion, officials reportedly set a condition: “The deal was: for her to be deputy chancellor, (Shawn Rux) had to give up his business,” said a source close to the arrangement.

In exchange, Shawn Rux was promised a job in the DOE, the source claimed. “It’s the foul stench of nepotism.” 

The office that Shawn Rux will lead oversees the closing or merging of schools, a rare occurrence in recent years. It also helps schools co-located with charters.

“This is an extremely low-profile gig,” a staffer said.

DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer said Friday, “We are still in the process of hiring for this role.”

But insiders said Shawn Rux met with the office staff that morning and introduced himself as their new boss. Styer had no response.

Shawn Rux, the principal of MS 53 in Far Rockaway from 2011 to 2016, was featured in news stories for creating “Rux Bux,” vouchers for school supplies or lunches that students earned for good behavior. He also raffled tickets for prizes, like an Xbox, to get kids to come to school.

He was promoted to deputy superintendent in 2017 and left the DOE in 2021 to run for a City Council seat, unsuccessfully.

He then founded Ruxway Inc. The company offered keynote speaking, leadership coaching, “school turnaround” guidance, and “culture/climate support.” 

It’s not the only case in which the school’s chancellor has favored friends, insiders said.

Banks named Tracey Collins — a DOE administrator and Mayor Adams’ longtime girlfriend – as a “senior advisor to the deputy chancellor of school leadership,” then Blackburn. She started that job in July 2022 with a 23% raise to $221,597.

Banks and Danika Rux would not answer questions. Shawn Rux did not return messages seeking comment.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

District 7 Superintendent Roberto Padilla Has Not Responded To the Sexual Harassment Charges Filed Against Him in Federal Court

 Whenever the NYC Department of Education hires an administrator-level person who has been accused of, or found guilty of, serious misconduct, people in NYC wonder what the heck is up with that?

I don't. Individuals who are accused of serious wrongdoing need a job, and the NYC Department of Education need high-office individuals who will keep the secrets of the Department safe from public view, including their own.

Be sure, there are a lot of secret deals behind closed doors within the NYC Department of Education.

Just sayin".......

Betsy Combier

Roberto Padilla (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

Bronx school superintendent fails to respond to sexual harassment lawsuit as accusers seek default judgment
By Cayla BambergerNew York Daily News, August 4, 2023

Two former educators accusing a Bronx superintendent of sexual harassment have asked a state judge to rule in their favor after the school head failed to respond to the complaint, according to court documents. 

(Tracy Y. Allen v Roberto Padilla, 22-cv-09523-CS, SDNY)

Superintendent Roberto Padilla of School District 7 was served last summer with a lawsuit alleging he made inappropriate comments and advances toward female employees when he led a public school system in the Hudson Valley.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs told the News that Padilla has not appeared in court or responded to the lawsuit, leading them to file a motion for default judgment Monday in Orange County trial court.

“A year has passed since Defendant Padilla was served, and to date, no appearance, answer or reply has been forthcoming from Defendant Padilla or their representatives,” read court documents.

“It is apparent that Defendant Padilla will not proceed with their defense.”

Even though the lawsuit was pending, Padilla was hired to lead two dozen schools in the South Bronx last year as part of a broader leadership shakeup ordered by Chancellor David Banks that had the city’s 45 superintendents reapply for their jobs.

But the selection of Padilla, who has denied the allegations, stirred instant controversy.

“There was a civil action that was taken, and that hasn’t been finalized yet,” said City Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala (D-Bronx), who has pushed back against Padilla’s hiring with an ongoing lawsuit. “I would’ve imagined that the process would be required to be finalized before you make a hiring decision that could impact hundreds of individuals working under him.”

“The fact that we have a superintendent that has an accusation of this nature, who is not reporting back to court or replying, is even more unsettling.”

Two educators from his former district of Newburgh — Una Miller, a former principal and Elizabeth Walsh, a former teacher — allege Padilla made inappropriate comments and advances towards them during a work trip two summers ago in San Diego. An independent investigator appointed by the local school board substantiated Miller’s claims.

“We live with the consequences of Dr. Padilla’s actions every day, but by ignoring our lawsuit he is attempting to escape responsibility,” Miller and Walsh said in a statement to the Daily News.

“Dr. Padilla continues to be employed as a Superintendent, and was paid severance from Newburgh while receiving his new salary. As educators, we taught our students to take responsibility for their actions,” they added.

Padilla resigned from Newburgh schools that winter after the district agreed to continue paying his $279,000 salary for two years.

In response, Miller and Walsh brought the lawsuit in May 2022. Padilla was served with the summons and complaint last summer but did not respond, starting a one-year clock for the plaintiffs to file a motion for default judgement.

Padilla could not be reached Thursday but has previously denied wrongdoing, while city education officials would not say if they were denying the allegations.

“We take all claims of harassment seriously and believe that they should be thoroughly investigated,” said public schools spokesman Nathaniel Styer in a statement.

The Newburgh public schools have denied wrongdoing that contributed to the alleged harassment or women’s resignations from the district, including that it failed to make its sexual harassment prevention training video interactive, according to court documents.

Councilwoman Ayala suggested the administration “jumped the gun” by hiring Padilla, rather than wait until if he is cleared after the process is done.