Activist Stoudemire files HRC complaint

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Reverend Sheldon Stoude­mire, military veteran, long-time anti-drug street preacher and children’s advocate, has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission claiming he was fired from Auberle in retaliation for a previous HRC complaint about another employee.

In February, Stoudemire had told his superiors in writing that on more than one occasion a social worker, who is not one of his supervisors, had threatened him with disciplinary action and that if it occurred again he would file a complaint with the HRC.

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SEEKING ANSWERS—Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire presents documentation he says supports his claim of wrongful termination from a school for troubled youths.

On May 17, he initiated such a complaint, and another with the NAACP Pittsburgh Branch. On May 19 he was terminated. According to his termination letter, he was fired for dropping off a child at the wrong address after a May 14 field trip.

“The day before I was discussing the incident with Assistant Director Dennis Robinson, who said he’d done the same thing early on in his career and that I’d just be written up,” said Stoudemire. “But he mentioned the ‘whistle-blowing,’ said it wasn’t good. They fired me the next day.”

Auberle is a nonprofit company specializing in working with and teaching troubled youths that area school districts cannot. It contracts with 22 school districts that refer students to the Homestead facility. Auberle also provides in-home, foster, drug and alcohol, independent living and vocational training programs. The 50-year-old company is based in McKeesport.

Prior to his firing, Stoudemire received solid performance reviews from Principal Linda Marcolini, noting he was “on target or ahead of target” to meet all his performance goals.

“In the year and a half I was there, I had one verbal reprimand before this for not filling out paperwork properly, but that’s it,” he said. “There are a lot of strange circumstances in my termination. Now they’ll have to answer to these outside agencies. For 36 years, I’ve served my country, my community and my schools. This is unjust.”

Auberle CEO John Lydon said the company had not seen the complaint and that he would be unable to comment further as the company does not discuss personnel issues.

Shannon Powers, PHRC spokesperson, confirmed that the complaint had been initiated but said it is not yet complete.

“After a complaint is served the respondent can file a written response within 30-60 days. Then both parties submit documents supporting their claims. Some cases require us to use our subpoena powers. It’s like any other legal investigation,” she said. “Sometimes it takes a while to gather the evidence.”

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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