File photo: Denise Civiletti

The Riverhead Board of Education will hold a public hearing Tuesday night on its proposed $144.4 million operating budget for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The budget, approved by the board at its last meeting, will be put to a public vote on Tuesday, May 21. Budget details and voting information is available on the district’s website.

The four candidates for two open trustees seats will also have an opportunity to address the public at the board meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the high school. Incumbents Laurie Downs and Elizabeth Silva are seeking re-election. They are facing challenges by Jerome Bost and Matthew Wallace.

Parents who attend Tuesday night’s meeting will have more than the budget on their minds.

The board meeting will be the first since a sex scandal involving the high school principal and a female student erupted last Monday, several days after the district administration announced it had removed the principal from his post. The announcement cited an unexplained “personnel investigation” that the district said it was “legally prohibited” from sharing further details about. Regan was “administratively reassigned” and assistant principal Sean O’Hara was named acting principal, the April 30 statement from Schools Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez said.

A week later, an attorney representing a high school senior and her parents, filed a $10 million notice of claim against the district, alleging that principal Regan had “groomed” the girl, 18, for a sexual relationship over a period of months and engaged in explicit text messaging with her, including sharing near-naked photos of himself. At a press conference May 6, the lawyer, John Ray of Miller Place, displayed the photos and text messages and said the principal forcibly kissed the student in his office on April 29. Ray said he had communications with two other students in Regan’s previous school district who — then both minors — alleged inappropriate relationships. Regan has been employed by Riverhead Central School District since 2006.

The day after the scandal erupted, the school superintendent released a second statement, in which she provided details of actions the district took when the incident was reported by the student, including notifying Riverhead Police, completing child abuse forms and filing a complaint with the unit of the New York State Education Department that addresses allegations of moral turpitude.

“Since Dr. Regan is a tenured employee, the district does not have the right to unilaterally suspend him or terminate his services without the opportunity for a full due process hearing,” Henriquez said in the May 7 statement.

Social media blew up over the allegations, with parents demanding to know how this could have happened and wondering if there were other incidents in Riverhead involving the principal, and people debating the culpability of the student involved.

School board members have been mum on the matter and it is unknown whether they will address it at the upcoming meeting.

Budget presentation this week

The budget will be presented to the public by district officials at a community forum in Calverton this week.

The forum will take place Wednesday evening at Riley Avenue Elementary School, at a joint meeting of the Calverton and Greater Jamesport civic associations, beginning at 6 p.m.

In addition, the trustee candidates will be at the Riverside, Northampton Community Association meeting at the Crohan Community Center on Flanders Road Monday evening at 7 p.m.

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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.