The Minneapolis School Board has suspended contract negotiations with its new superintendent as it continues to investigate abuse allegations at the school district he ran in Massachusetts.
At a special meeting Tuesday evening, the board voted to pause the negotiations with Sergio Páez for at least a month, the district announced.
Just last week the board chose Páez to be the next leader of the city’s public school system, and were beginning to negotiate a contract with him when the abuse allegations came to light a few days later.
The Disability Law Center in Massachusetts released a report about Páez's time as superintendent of Holyoke Public Schools. The report claimed there was a pattern of excessive force and psychological abuse against special needs students at Peck School during that time.
Minneapolis school officials said information about the Holyoke complaints was not available before the board voted to select Páez on Dec. 7. They noted that during the hiring process, a “thorough background check and multiple discussions with professional references” for Páez were done.
Two board members plan to visit Holyoke on Friday to gather more information, and will conduct in-person conversations with associates of Páez.
District officials have also reached out to Massachusetts education officials about the complaints at Peck School.
Páez told The Journal claims made by parents of children in the Peck School program were investigated, saying “there was no finding of any wrongdoing from the administration or the schools.” He added he is working with attorneys to make sure the district understands it was taken care of and “we oversaw the process.”
"The Board takes seriously the allegations in Holyoke and looks forward to thoroughly reviewing and evaluating all pertinent information before finalizing a contract with Dr. Páez," school officials said in the statement.
The Board will discuss the situation again at its next meeting on Jan. 12, and will decide then whether to resume contract negotiations with Páez.