Riverhead School District

Records: Riverhead School District settled lawsuit filed by family of elementary student who witnessed principal, teacher engaged in sexual activity

A Suffolk County judge has approved a settlement between the Riverhead Central School District, two of its employees and the family of an elementary school student who witnessed the staff members engaged in sexual activity, court records show.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2020 by the father of a Pulaski Street Elementary School student who said that on Nov. 12, 2019, his daughter walked into an orchestra room and found the school’s principal kissing a music teacher, with the lower portion of the teacher’s body exposed, according to a copy of the civil complaint.

In a memo to the other attorneys in the case, a lawyer for the teacher noted that the defendants had reached a $20,000 global settlement with the student’s family last September. In a separate memo in May, an attorney for the district confirmed the September 2021 settlement. The matter was closed following a final settlement conference June 23, according to court records.

Soon after the incident, orchestra teacher Christina Mercurio was reassigned to the district’s office of pupil personnel services before being transferred to Aquebogue Elementary School in January 2020. Pulaski Street principal Dave Densieski was also reassigned to pupil personnel services, before retiring at the end of that school year. The two staff members were named as defendants in the case along with the district itself.

The civil complaint alleged the student suffered “post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, fearfulness and related emotional trauma” from having witnessed the “extreme and outrageous conduct” of the employees.