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Riverhead school board appoints temporary principal at Pulaski Street School

The Riverhead school board on Tuesday officially appointed Patrick Burke to fill in as elementary principal at Pulaski Street School while the district investigates the reassignment of two educators.
Mr. Burke’s term will run from Nov. 18 “until it is determined by the Board of Education that such appointment is no longer necessary,” according to personnel reports.
Last month, Mr. Burke returned to an assistant principal position at the high school, a post he held from 2014 until January. He will receive $151,033 annually for his position at Pulaski.
Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez urged community members to be patient with the district as officials work to investigate the reassignment principal Dave Densieski and orchestra teacher Christina Mercurio.
“We ask for your continued patience with us,” she said Tuesday. “We are working to assure that all outcomes here in Riverhead Central School District are what’s best for the children.”
Dr. Henriquez added that district representatives cannot comment on the personnel issue but have been discussing community concerns.
“We are working together to insure that the outcome — the final decision — will be in the best interest of all,” she said. “We always have the students at heart and mind in all decisions that are made.”
Angela Ohlbaum of Aquebogue said she is “upset, angry and disappointed” about the situation at Pulaski.
Ms. Ohlbaum said she doesn’t know what occurred at Pulaski, but believes it was ongoing and that the public was aware of the situation. She asked district officials to review camera surveillance in the hallways around the time both educators were reassigned.
Ms. Ohlbaum added that some parents in the district refer to Pulaski as “the black hole” and say that once students get through it, they can succeed at the middle school. She said Mr. Burke is “phenomenal” and said “the energy has changed in Pulaski” as a result of his work.
Michael Raniere of Ingerman Smith LLP said the board is not at liberty to comment on the active personnel investigation and apologized that they couldn’t offer more information.
Dr. Henriquez said she has received a petition asking Mr. Densieski not to return to Pulaski, as well as some emails and phone calls from concerned parents.
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