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Oblates say resolution at Padua Academy derailed by lawyer


Leaders of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales religious order of priests said they were part of discussions to resolve the employment dispute involving the former principal of Padua Academy, but said talks were sidetracked by an attorney representing the ex-principal.
Cindy Mann was dismissed earlier this month from her job as top administrator at Padua Academy, according to a statement issued March 26 by St. Anthony’s of Padua parish. Padua Academy operates as part of St. Anthony’s and Mann had reported to the parish pastor, Father Nicholas Waseline, an Oblate priest.
In a statement issued on behalf of the Oblates, Father Kevin Nadolski took issue with assertions made by Thomas Neuberger, an attorney hired by Mann, calling his statements “inconsistent with the direct communication the Oblates have had with Mrs. Mann.”

Padua Academy students rally March 19 in support of former head of school Cindy Mann. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

Mann could not immediately be reached for comment.
Neuberger, in an earlier statement also dated March 26, said a settlement “has been vetoed by the Oblates” and they “made an outrageous demand for an immediate Palm Sunday meeting before they would ever agree to settle this dispute.”
The statement from the Oblates counters those claims.
“Yes, our intentions are to continue to bring peace to this matter. We are convinced that the process to move forward to Mrs. Mann’s reinstatement was proceeding well until Mr. Neuberger’s interventions.”
The statement said Mann’s lawyer “slowed down her reinstatement and complicated the process of healing.”
A proposed weekend meeting among Mann, the pastor and others never happened.
“While Oblate leadership has no authority over the hiring and firing of parish personnel in any of its parishes, Oblate leadership immediately offered assistance to help resolve this crisis as we believed that a solution based on dialogue and conversation, as opposed to litigation, would be best for all parties,” reads the statement issued by Father Nadolski.
The statements issued among Neuberger, St. Anthony’s parish and the Oblates also mention Mann’s physical health. Neuberger’s statement details cardiac issues Mann confronted last year.
“The Oblates and their St. Anthony’s Church pastor are fully aware that, after a year of stress over church financial assessment and school independence issues, Cindy was given only three months to live and so from April 10 to May 25, 2017 she was hospitalized for emergency surgery,” Neuberger wrote. “She almost died during surgery and then almost died later during hospital rehab.”
The statement from Father Nadolski said an Oblate friend telephoned Mann the day after her dismissal as principal to check on her health and she reported to him that she was fine.  
“The Oblates remain hopeful in Mrs. Mann and Fr. Waseline; we also are seriously concerned for the health of them both,” the statement read.
The parish statement also mentioned Mann’s health.
“The parish is also now confused and confounded regarding the status of Mrs. Mann’s health, and even the possibility of her being able to perform the duties of her prior position, based on the public statements of her counsel,” it read.
Students at Padua Academy staged a protest March 19, staying out of school in support of their principal. They returned to classes the next day. Neuberger held a meeting among parents March 22 during which efforts to support Mann were discussed.
The Diocese of Wilmington issued a statement March 21 in which it said Bishop Malooly was “working behind the scenes in conversation with leadership from the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales and several members of the Padua Academy Advisory Board in efforts to resolve this painful and divisive situation.”
The bishop expressed hope for the possibility of reconciliation.
In an earlier statement, St. Anthony’s outlined a parish plan instituted two years ago aimed at maintaining financial stability throughout the parish, including Padua Academy. The plan called for several initiatives including collection of a “stewardship assessment” from Padua Academy.