30 employees from Schools Development Authority fired

You might say that the other shoe dropped at the Schools Development Authority on Tuesday. In April, CEO Lizette Delgado-Polanco resigned amid accusations of nepotism.

Tuesday, the Murphy Administration fired 30 employees of the SDA, 27 of whom had been hired by Delgado-Polanco.

After the Bergen Record broke the story this winter, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal hired a Morristown law firm to conduct an investigation of SDA hiring practices. The Governor’s Office released that report Tuesday.

It’s substantial at 106 pages in length. It concludes that nearly every new hire at the SDA during Delgado Polanco’s tenure had a personal connection to her. It also says there is evidence that the new hires got higher salaries and favorable treatment as a result of their connection to the CEO.

When asked about the firings on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said, “We just made a release and I’ll let the board chair, Rob Nixon and Manny [De Silva] the acting CEO speak to that. […] The reports have just come out. It’s literally right off the press. There were three parallel reports. They were comprehensive. They looked at redundancies, qualifications, processes and they made the conclusions that they did.”

The report talks about an extremely toxic work environment at the SDA. It says some of the Delgado-Polanco hires were qualified for their jobs while others were not.

The Governor’s Office also put out two other SDA-related reports. One said there had been no tampering with personnel files during the upheaval at the SDA, a charge made by some longtime employees whom Delgado-Polanco fired. The other report was an audit that points up significant deficiencies in SDA practices and procedures.

Delgado-Polanco currently works at a political consulting firm run by a Murphy ally.

In a news release announcing the reports, Murphy said, “SDA Board Chair Rob Nixon and Interim CEO Manny De Silva have my full and unwavering support to make any management decisions they deem necessary based on the findings of these reports.”