CITY OF NEWBURGH — The Newburgh school board unanimously voted Tuesday night to rehire high school varsity track coach Malcolm Burks, and a list of 10 other winter sports coaches, for the 2019-20 school year.

Burks was one of the coaches investigated by an Orange County grand jury, and the school district during its own subsequent investigation, regarding students who played sports while ineligible because of their attendance at school.

Superintendent Roberto Padilla said at the end of Tuesday's school board meeting that the district's investigation wrapped up a few days ago.

"We did identify that there were some track students that competed that were ineligible roughly four years ago," Padilla said. "And while I can't get into personnel matters, consequences have been given and they're closely monitoring. We see, based on our systems and data, that things have improved in the last two years."

He noted that coaches referenced in the grand jury report were met with on an individual basis as part of the district's internal investigation.

"They absolutely know what the expectations are," Padilla said. "Systems are going to continue to be monitored. The policy has been revised. So, it's pretty tight."

Padilla emphasized that coaching positions are annual appointments and not guaranteed.

"We are going to evaluate annually, and make decisions accordingly based on how people follow the policy and, ultimately, how they perform as coaches," he said.

Supporters that included parents, coaches from outside Newburgh, students and former Newburgh Free Academy athletes turned out in droves to speak to the school board about Burks' character. Many talked about how Burks was both a coach and a mentor to track athletes, encouraging them to pursue a college education and lending them guidance about life outside school.

They packed the school board meeting room again Tuesday.

"He is obviously a role model," said Kayla Phipps, a former NFA student and track athlete under Burks, adding that he has "dramatically" changed the lives of his athletes over his 20-year coaching career in Newburgh.

After Burks was approved to be rehired along with the other winter coaches, people in the audience thanked the school board for listening to them.

"It really makes a difference to hear from the public about what the public feels about specific items," said board member Darren Stridiron.

lbellamy@th-record.com