SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady County Human Rights Commission members terminated former executive director Angelicia A. Morris for insubordination, failure to follow commission bylaws and other issues, according to her termination notice.
Questions have been swirling around the termination of Morris ever since her abrupt Feb. 18 departure. The matter came up before the County Legislature Tuesday night. A small group of her supporters rallied outside the County Office Building before the Legislature meeting, and some later spoke during the meeting’s public comment period.
“It is unfair and unjust and the community will not remain silent,” said Maria Pacheco of Schenectady, who organized the rally on Facebook.
Morris was fired after seven years in the position. County officials said the decision was made by the Human Rights Commission, which currently has six vacancies on what is supposed to be a 15-member board. County officials had declined to discuss the reasons, citing personnel policy.
But her termination notice, sent to county government leaders on Feb. 18 by acting commission chairman Omar Sterling McGill, lays out five broad grounds for the termination. The Daily Gazette obtained the notice through a Freedom of Information Act request.
“After further review and evaluation of the Executive Director’s performance, we cited the following reasons for termination,” McGill wrote. “Insubordination and failure to adhere to requests made by the commissioners. Failure to abide by the bylaws of the Human Rights Commission. Negligence and abuse of power. Failure to perform Executive Director duties. Compromising the integrity of the commission.”
The notice was sent to County Manager Rory Fluman, and copies to County Attorney Chris Gardner, Director of Human Resources Joe McQueen, and Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski. The contents of the notice were first reported by the Times Union.
The 15-member Human Rights Commission currently has only nine members, with six seats vacant. McGill’s letter said the group met on Feb. 13 with seven members present and voted to terminate Morris.
Pacheco called for disbanding of the commission, which she called “dysfunctional.” “I demand a new commission be created,” she said.
The county Department of Human Resources is working with the Human Rights Commission members to begin the search for a new director, a full-time job which last year paid more than $70,000. Commissioners will ultimately vote to select Morris’ replacement. It will be up to the County Legislature to fill the vacant seats on the Human Rights Commission.
The county Human Rights Commission is set up to probe incidents of tension and conflict between racial and religious groups and investigate complaints of alleged discrimination, among other responsibilities.
Morris has threatened legal action against the commission and enlisted attorney Kevin Luibrand. He has previously declined to discuss possible litigation, and did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Lalania Clayton-No-Tice of Schenectady spoke up in Morris’ defense during the public comment period of the Legislature meeting. “Angie has been doing an amazing job and I am appalled about her firing,” she said.
“This is all a political thing,” said Robert K. Sanders, a former county worker who attended the rally. “I don’t know what Angie did do or didn’t do. I know Angie is a good person.”