Board of Education notes: Assistant principal hired to replace dean at middle school

Riverhead Central School District Board of Education approved the hiring of a new middle school assistant principal to replace the dean of students at a meeting last Tuesday.

Emmanuel Hernandez was hired to replace Kenneth Coard, whose resignation was accepted by the board on Oct. 25 and made effective on Nov. 18. He had been in the position for over a year and is now an assistant principal at Amityville Union Free School District.

The district decided to hire an assistant principal after conversations with the middle school administration, superintendent Augustine Tornatore said.

“The decision was that we really needed to move the position to a full time [assistant principal] position, because the [dean of students] position was really 10 months and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done over the summer and preparing for the next school year and working with students,” he said.

One of the dean’s largest responsibilities was the implementation of restorative practices. Mr. Tornatore said that responsibility, along with others, will be split between the two assistant principals in the building once Mr. Hernandez starts.

“What’s going to happen is that with both [assistant principals,] responsibilities are going to be split,” he said. “One person can concentrate on seventh grade, one person can concentrate on eighth grade and then be splitting all the responsibilities, which just makes it flow better. It just really is the better way to go.”

According to a personnel report attached to the agenda for the board meeting, Mr. Hernandez will begin at the district on Jan. 3 and is hired through Jan. 2, 2027. His annual salary will be $141,755.

During the superintendent’s report, Mr. Tornatore announced that in light of the incidents that have occurred at the high school, he and the district’s security director, Terry Culhane, have met with Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon to discuss a partnership, “to provide additional support for our students at the high school and the middle school,” he said. 

In February, two students had to be revived with Narcan for suspected overdoses within the span of a week. A police investigation that same month determined no opioids or fentanyl were responsible for the suspected overdoses. In early June, a 15-year-old student threatened to “shoot up the school” and more recently, in early November, a student was charged with misdemeanor menacing after threat of an altercation involving several students.

They are in “early conversations,” and putting together a plan for the Sheriff’s department to “come in, visit students, work with students, support students,” through assemblies and other programming. The superintendent said he will review the plan and is aiming to implement it in January.

This partnership will not cost the district any money, Mr. Tornatore said. 

“We do want students to know that the police are not the bad guys, they’re here to help and to serve and protect, so we want to certainly do everything we can to improve that relationship, but also to provide more safety and security for our students,” Mr. Tornatore said.

Other resolutions of note that the board of education approved include:

  • A memorandum of agreement with Suffolk County’s School Bus Stop Arm camera program. 
    The program has helped curb illegal driving behavior around stopped school busses. A law was passed in New York State in 2019 which authorizes school districts and municipalities to use stop-arm cameras on school buses to impose penalties on the owners of vehicles which pass a school bus while the school bus is stopped while dropping off or picking up passengers, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
    The school will receive a grant from Suffolk County for $29,373 to “develop and implement a program to educate drivers on the state laws associated with stopping for school buses,” according to the agreement.
  • The board also authorized the district purchase a 2019 Ford F-250 with plow for buildings and grounds using a New York State Office of General Services contract for $52,908.62.