Newburgh firefighter flunks out of academy again

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City of Newburgh FD Engine. Mid-Hudson News file photo.

NEWBURGH – The grandson of Councilman Omari Shakur has failed out of the Westchester County Career Firefighter Academy for the second time.  Rayquan Bryant was originally hired as a Newburgh city firefighter on March 11, 2022, and was sent to the required fire academy on March 15th last year.

He flunked out of the 17-week academy about a month into it last year, yet the city kept him on the payroll at full salary even though he was barred from responding to fires.

Rather than terminate Bryant after he flunked out the first time, City Manager Todd Venning kept him on the books, paying him a $42,000 annual salary.  Despite not being able to perform the work for which he was paid, Bryant was still considered a firefighter.

City officials told Mid-Hudson News in 2022 that Bryant was doing tasks in the firehouse and studying so that he could attend the Westchester Fire Academy in the fall of 2022.  Bryant was essentially getting paid to study for the classes that he had already failed. Many career firefighters have complained that Bryant’s “pay to study” deal is unheard of.

Bryant is reported to have returned to the Westchester academy in the fall of 2022 for his second attempt.  Bryant’s class was slated to graduate in mid-January of 2023 but Bryant had once again been cut from the roster by academy officials.

As a result, Venning terminated his employment after flunking out for the second time.