No. 7 Story of the Year: Highest-paid L.I. school employee

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12/26/2014 8:00 AM |
Joe Ogeka retires from Riverhead

Joe Ogeka talks to Riverhead school officials on election night in 2013. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The state’s highest-paid public school employee outside New York City last fiscal year was longtime Riverhead School District administrator Joe Ogeka — a recently retired assistant superintendent who was kept on the payroll for consulting work, according to a report.

Mr. Ogeka, who served as assistant superintendent for personnel and community services and retired in June 2013, was paid $376,340 during the 2013-14 school year, the report revealed.
The Empire Center for Public Policy, an independent nonprofit based in Albany, issued a press release in October outlining the latest school salary data compiled by, a government transparency project sponsored by Empire.

Mr. Ogeka’s career in Riverhead spans nearly three decades. He was first hired as a high school physical education teacher and later worked as an assistant principal and associate principal for the district’s Alternative School before taking the assistant superintendent position.

Over the years, parents had criticized the district for promoting Mr. Ogeka despite a drunken driving conviction during his tenure. He also made national headlines in 2000 after an incident in which he was chaperoning a student who committed suicide after being left behind on a field trip to Six Flags Great Adventure.

A month after Mr. Ogeka’s retirement, the News-Review obtained — through a Freedom of Information Law request — a contract between him and the district indicating that he’d receive full salary for an additional year while he assisted with “transition and restructuring.”

“As with all retirees,” Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney said in a statement, “he is entitled to certain benefits per his contract, including payment for some accumulated but unused sick and vacation days. These one-time earnings are reported as salary under the retirement system rules.”

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