Riverhead School District

Riverhead BOE approves firing of tenured teacher

The Riverhead Central School District Board of Education voted to fire a tenured teacher at its regular meeting Tuesday evening..

The teacher’s identity was not disclosed and officials declined to provide a name, citing a personnel matter. The teacher was subject to a disciplinary hearing and, according to the meeting agenda, “disciplinary charges were preferred as against a certain tenured teacher of the school district.”

The agenda states that a hearing was held and completed before a designated hearing officer from the New York State Department of Education, and that the hearing officer issued a final decision regarding the case on July 25. The agenda item also said that under the state law, the Board of Education is obligated to implement that decision.

The board voted unanimously to approve all consent agenda items, including approval of the 3020-a decision, firing the tenured teacher effective Aug. 9. Board members Therese Zuhoski and Christopher Dorr were absent Tuesday.

Superintendent Augustine Tornatore told the News-Review he was unable to comment on personnel matters..

“It is the district’s policy and, on advice of legal counsel, specifics about individual personnel issues— whether they involve a faculty, administrative or support staff member — are confidential and are not to be discussed publicly,” the superintendent’s statement said.

Greg Wallace, president of the Riverhead Central Faculty Association, said: “I am not at liberty to comment on the employment status of non-RCFA members.”

School board president Brian Connelly did not respond to a request for comment.

A tenured teacher has a right to retain their position and can only be terminated if there is “just cause,” according to state Education Law 3020. Under Education Law 3020-a, charges must be filed by the chief school administrator, after which the school board decides in executive session whether probable cause exists to bring a disciplinary proceeding against the employee, according to the state education department. If the board proceeds, a description of the charges, specifying each one in detail, is delivered to the employee. 

During Tuesday’s meeting, the BOE also approved the hiring of about a dozen teachers for the district.