The principal of a Dumont elementary school has been fired and may now lose his pension for inappropriate behavior toward the school’s vice principal an arbitrator ruled as inappropriate, reports say.
In a 53-page decision from Ruth Moscovitch, John Podesta, who became the Selzer School principal in 2015, was terminated from his position for harassing vice principal Jacqueline Bello and showing "inappropriate expressions of love," NorthJersey.com reports.
The decision also prevents Podesta from being eligible for leadership positions within the K-12 district, the report says.
Bello accused Podesta, 62, of New Milford, of showing romantic gestures such as gifts without reason, “persistent requests” to buy her dinner, and “creepy” hugs, the report said.
Podesta, whose wife testified in his defense at the hearing, "expressed no recognition that his conduct was inappropriate, and no regret or remorse. Thus, he cannot be expected to change," according to the state Dept. of Education’s fact-finder.
"It is indeed unfortunate that, after 40 years of unblemished service to the district," he "will end his career this way.”
Having spent his whole career in Dumont, Podesta earned an annual salary of $125,226 — though he hasn’t worked for the district since he was placed on administrative leave in October.
According to Podesta’s lawyer, Evan Goldman, he will file a state Superior Court motion to have the arbitrator’s ruling vacated.
Meanwhile, his replacement will be hired this summer, School board President Theresa Riva said.
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