BOE OK’s security director’s resignation; searching for replacement

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03/25/2015 11:29 AM |
Security director James Gersham discusses procedures with two members of his staff Marilyn Ross (left) and Eddie Johnson earlier this month. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Security director James Gersham discusses procedures with two members of his staff Marilyn Ross (left) and Eddie Johnson earlier this month. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A search is underway to replace Riverhead School District security director James Gresham, who’s resigning after being hired only six months ago.

It remains unclear why Mr. Gresham, who didn’t respond to calls seeking comment earlier this month, is leaving. When contacted by a reporter about his resignation, Superintendent Nancy Carney stated in a March 12 email: “Mr. Gresham is an employee of the district. Respecting the confidentiality rights of all employees, we do not discuss personnel issues.”

Mr. Gresham, who previously worked in security for over a decade in the Wyandanch and Southampton school districts, was featured in a March 12 News-Review cover story about recent improvements, and investments, in district security. Ms. Carney is proposing a 27 percent increase in the district’s security budget for the 2015-16 school year, adding $242,000 based on Mr. Gresham’s enhancement recommendations. Security measures already added in recent years include additional video surveillance, identification software and a salary for the security director position.

The superintendent also hopes to hire two additional security guards next year from the school’s general fund.

Tuesday night, the school board unanimously approved Ms. Carney’s recommendation to approve Mr. Gresham’s resignation, effective April 1.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Polish Town resident Laurie Downs, a longtime school board watchdog and past BOE candidate, asked how the district planned to replace Mr. Gresham and expressed concerns about future security plans.

“It appears the budget was pumped up because of his recommendations and [the new security director] may not agree with his recommendations,” Ms. Downs said.

School board president Greg Meyer said the district had interviewed other candidates from the civil service lists before hiring Mr. Gersham and is “going to go back and see if there are any new names on there and reach out to them.”

“The [security] section of the budget, we are rolling forward with that,” he said. “That’s something that we had on the back burner for a while and moved it up to the front burner, so everything that’s a part of [the proposed security budget] has been a plan of ours.”

After Ms. Downs suggested hiring a private firm to handle security, Mr. Meyer said the district is looking at its options.

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