The Riverhead Board of Education for the first time publicly addressed a sex scandal involving the high school principal and a female student at their meeting Tuesday night, saying that they are “extremely disappointed and outraged at the allegations” and vowing to cooperate with police and others while the matter is being investigated.
“The district intends to aggressively pursue its rights under the law and seek a final determination to the situation,” BOE president Susan Koukounas said in a prepared statement.
Anastasia Stapon, 18, a high school senior, accused Dr. Charles Regan, the high school principal, of grooming her for a sexual relationship over a period of a few months, then engaging in explicit sexting with her for a month before forcibly kissing her in his office at the high school on April 29. (See prior story )
According to the statement read by Koukounas, the Riverhead Town Police Department has officially started an investigation into the allegations and the district is fully cooperating with them.
Stapon’s lawyer John Ray, who was present at last night’s meeting and was allowed to speak publicly on behalf of the family, said that they are also cooperating with Riverhead police and will provide any evidence they require. The Suffolk County Police Department “has not committed yet to do an in-depth investigation,” Ray said.
Koukounas echoed the schools superintendent statement from last week, saying that when the allegations were first made, the district immediately contacted police and Stapon’s family, fulfilled its reporting obligations to the New York State Education Department and immediately removed Regan from the building and reassigned him away from the district.
Koukounas said that because Regan is a tenured employee, under New York State law he has full due process rights in connection with his job and he cannot be terminated without a hearing. Regan was first hired by the district as an assistant principal in June 2006. He previously worked at the Eastport-South Manor school district.
Koukounas also said the district has received a notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, which in addition to this issue being considered a personnel matter, means that “the district has limited discretion to share details of information on allegations that have been made” and cannot answer any questions about the specific allegations.
“We want to assure the community however, that we share their deep concerns about the behaviors that was reported and that the wellbeing of our students remains a top priority,” Koukounas said.
Ray, who filed the notice of claim agains the district, once again asked for the district to immediately suspend Regan without pay. He said the district should be allowed to do that because “is a provision on the statute itself” and that they should “give very careful consideration to it.”
In addition to the sex scandal, Ray accused Regan of “creating a present physical threat to the students at his school.”
“What he’s already done is one thing that we have to deal with. But what you need to be aware of is that he has made direct physical threats to students to take their lives,” Ray alleged. “He’s even made a threat, he’s such a psycho, to take the life of one of his own children. And that’s all in writing.”
Ray said that the board has the “obligation to refer [Regan] to the Commissioner of Education immediately for the suspension of his license.”
Ray cited the budget as another reason to suspend Regan without pay, saying that no taxpayer monies should be allowed to go to Regan.
In an interview, Ray said that by refusing to resign, Regan has taken the position to “fight for his job,” and that the only acceptable position the district should take, said Ray, is to suspend him without pay.
“For every penny you pay him, for every day that goes by that delays the ultimate hearing, you encourage him and not only encourage him, but you keep him in a position of a present danger,” Ray said.
Ray also requested that the board intensify their demand for an outside, independent investigator to come in and “thoroughly investigate, not just this man, but the people who covered up for him.”
“There are other connections, which we’ve discovered among the staff here that are illicit, that are improper,” Ray alleged.
Ray said that the board “can’t just sit back and see how the lawsuit goes.” He said they “should be aware of the present imminent danger, not only of Mr. Regan, but of the cabal that protected him in the school and still are doing so.”
Several members of the audience agreed with Ray.
“I hope that you are inclusive with the community and hire an outside investigator who has no affiliation whatsoever with this group,” local resident Dhonna Goodale said when she addressed the board.
Ray said that at least two women from another school district have come forward to accuse Regan of inappropriate behavior when they were 14 and 16 years old respectively. He said he would be filing a notice of claim on a separate case regarding another teenager and Regan in another school district as soon as this week.
School district attorney Christopher Venator responded to Ray by repeating the BOE statement and said that the district “fully intends to do all that we can do to protect the district and its rights.” He also thanked Ray for his offer to provide the district with documentation and indicated the district was open to working with Ray.
“I will cooperate with this board even though we’re suing them,” Ray said. “We have one cause in common, and absolutely, we will share evidence.”
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