Education

Former Riverhead superintendent could earn full salary next year, documents show

Riverhead taxpayers could still be on the hook for nearly a quarter-million dollars in payments to former school superintendent Aurelia Henriquez, according to a separation agreement obtained by the Riverhead News-Review Thursday.

Under the terms of the separation agreement, which was approved by the Board of Education June 29 and obtained by the News-Review through Freedom of Information laws, Dr. Henriquez was entitled to a check equal to half of her 2019-2020 base salary upon her resignation. The district will also begin paying her monthly in January 2021 through June 30, 2021 at her 2019-2020 contract rate should she fail to secure a new job by then.

A contract originally approved when she was hired in 2017 lists her base salary as $220,000 with future raises at the discretion of the Board of Education. The public payroll database SeeThroughNY lists Dr. Henriquez’s 2019 salary at $224,000.

Since this is a confidential matter of personnel, the board of education, the district and Dr. Henriquez will have no further comments regarding this matter.

Joint statement

The district will also continue covering 80% of Dr. Henriquez’s health insurance through June 30, 2021, according to the agreement.

As part of the terms, Dr. Henriquez is required to make “reasonable efforts” to find a new job following her resignation and will be required to provide proof of those efforts to the district. In the event that she does gain employment elsewhere, the district will reduce payments by the gross amount of any income she’s earned.

The agreement cites irreconcilable differences that arose between the superintendent and board and lists terms in order “to avoid potential litigation.”

A stipulation in the agreement also prohibits board members and district officials from discussing the disputes between the parties that led to any of the differences between them, except for the joint public statement read at a June 29 Board meeting.

A resignation letter submitted to the Board of Education did not specify her reasons for stepping down, but acknowledged the decision was irrevocable.

Dr. Henriquez had been an assistant superintendent in the Brentwood School District before she was unanimously approved in May 2017 as Riverhead’s next superintendent, replacing Nancy Carney. In January 2019, the school board approved a two-year extension for her contract in a 4-2 vote with members Susan Koukounas and Christopher Dorr voting in opposition.

Aside from a joint statement read aloud during the meeting, board of education officials did not provide additional comments on Dr. Henriquez’s departure.

A statement sent through the district’s public relations firm said the board of education plans to begin a “thorough search process to identify the best candidate to serve as the district’s next superintendent of schools.”

“Since this is a confidential matter of personnel, the board of education, the district and Dr. Henriquez will have no further comments regarding this matter,” the statement said.

Assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Christine Tona has been appointed interim superintendent.