School Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Schools Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez had her employment contract extended by the board of education Tuesday night over the objection of the board president and vice president.

Both president Susan Koukounas and vice president Christopher Dorr voted against the two-year extension, with Koukounas reading a statement questioning the superintendent’s job performance and suggesting the extension was premature.

Former board president Greg Meyer was absent from the meeting, but the four remaining board members present voted yes on a resolution extending the contract through the 2021-2022 academic year.

Henriquez is in the second year of a three-year contract. She requested the extension, a request commonly made in a superintendent’s second year, officials said.

She was appointed in May 2017 by the unanimous vote of a prior board, which included both Koukounas and Dorr.

Koukounas’ written statement was not distributed to the public and district officials today said they did not have a copy of the document.

In an email Wednesday evening, Koukounas explained her position.

“Our obligation to our community is to hold our leader to high standards through continuous evaluation. At the time of the vote, Dr. Henriquez served only 15 months and has undergone only one evaluation,” she wrote. “It was not prudent to discuss a contract extension with such a short amount of time in service and with limited evaluation. Furthermore, the board did not have enough time to measure any progress as recommended from her first and only evaluation in June 2018.”

Henriquez, who spent all of her 23-year career in education in the Brentwood school district before coming to Riverhead for the start of the 2017-2018 school year, said in an interview Wednesday morning she is honored to have the board’s support.

“It truly is a privilege to serve the Riverhead community,” Henriquez said. “I have been so impressed with our students, our parents and our teachers. It truly is a team effort.”

The district has her “utmost loyalty and commitment,” she said.

“We have a lot of work to do,” the superintendent said. “This is about continuing the work we are doing.”

Three of the district’s schools were removed from the state’s focus schools list this year, Henriquez announced last month. Another school was elevated to the status of a “targeted support and improvement school.”

Under Henriquez’s leadership in Brentwood, where she served as an assistant superintendent from 2007 to 2017, five schools in the Brentwood district came off the focus schools list.

Henriquez said she is looking forward to continuing improvement in Riverhead.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.