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Former Riverhead administrator to be paid in full under terms of settlement agreement

A former Riverhead Central School District administrator will be paid his full salary through June 30 under the terms of a settlement agreement approved by the Board of Education in January.

Sam Schneider, who was appointed to the role of assistant superintendent for business in East Hampton earlier this month, submitted his formal resignation to the district clerk on March 1.

He had been on administrative leave since October after an employee raised an allegation to the superintendent who in turn began an investigation. 

District officials have repeatedly declined to elaborate on the nature of the investigation.

That investigation will not be continued, according to a settlement agreement that was approved at a Jan. 25 Board of Education meeting and obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request. The resolution did not identify Mr. Schneider by name.

According to the terms within the agreement, Mr. Schneider is set to receive a one-time lump sum payment of all the compensation that he would have earned through the end of the school year within 20 days of his resignation.

His current contract lists his salary as $212,069, which does not include benefits.

The payment would include his salary, flex-plan benefits, employer 403(b) contributions and unused vacation time accrued.

The agreement required him to submit a conditional letter of resignation to the district while making “reasonable efforts” to find employment outside of the district.

If the resignation letter was not released from escrow by June 30, a term in the agreement would have allowed Mr. Schneider to continue retaining his tenured position as assistant superintendent for finance and operations with “all the rights, benefits, conditions and accoutrements of the position.”

The settlement noted that requests for a reference or recommendation during his job search were to be handled by assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Christine Tona, who served as the interim superintendent during the 2020-2021 school year in the wake of former superintendent Aurelia Henriquez’s resignation.

Mr. Schneider had been promoted to deputy superintendent in 2016 and had been the assistant superintendent for finance and operations since 2011.

The Board of Education voted to abolish that deputy superintendent position in October, claiming that the position was “no longer necessary for the efficient operations” of the district.

The settlement notes that “certain differences” arose between Mr. Schneider, the Board of Education and the superintendent and includes a clause that states the parties “shall not disparage each other at any time,” nor participate in any publicity concerning the terms of the settlement or dispute that led to it.

The 10-page document also included a public statement to be issued to local media on behalf of the district and Mr. Schneider. The statement read:

“The District conducted an investigation into an allegation lodged against Mr. Schneider by an employee of the District; the District has determined that there is no meaningful reason to continue that investigation. The District and Mr. Schneider have determined that it is in their mutual best interest to separate at this time.”

Since Mr. Schneider was placed on administrative leave, the school board has made two moves to fill the role, first hiring Herb Chessler as an acting business official.

The board then hired Faith Caglianone in place of Mr. Chessler who resigned shortly after he was appointed.

Ms. Caglianone is now helping the district formulate its 2022-23 budget.

At a Board of Education meeting last Tuesday, her title was amended from acting assistant superintendent of finance and operations to interim assistant superintendent of finance and operations. Superintendent Augustine Tornatore said the district will now advertise for the position, conduct interviews and hire a candidate.