Riverhead High School principal Charles Regan at commencement in June 2018. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Former Riverhead High School principal Charles Regan has surrendered his teacher and administrator certificates, rendering him ineligible to obtain employment as a teacher or administrator in any public school in New York State.

Riverhead School District Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez today confirmed she had been notified by the State Education Department.

Regan, facing disciplinary charges stemming from alleged sexual abuse of an 18-year-old female student, resigned from his post effective Sept. 27.

Riverhead High School senior Anastasia Stapon, accused Regan of forcibly kissing her in his office on April 29, after months of sharing sexually explicit texts and half-nude photos with her. Her attorney, John Ray, produced printouts of the text messages and copies of photos at a May 6 press conference in his Miller Place office.

Ray subsequently filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Stapon against Regan, the school district and present and past school board members and officials. That lawsuit is pending in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The defendants have not filed a formal answer in the case but have notified the court they intend to file a motion to dismiss the complaint. The court has set a March 20 deadline for filing the motion.

When the superintendent learned of the sexual assault allegation on April 29, she administratively reassigned Regan to his home. After an investigation, the district brought disciplinary charges against Regan in June, seeking to terminate his employment. Regan demanded a hearing on the charges — the substance of which were not disclosed by the district due to “confidentiality requirements.”

In August, the school board accepted Regan’s resignation and agreed to drop the pending disciplinary charges. The board was split on that decision, with three members opposed to accepting the resignation, preferring instead to litigate the charges. The decision sparked outrage, as many community members were incensed that the disciplinary charges would be dropped.

Board members who supported accepting the resignation and the school district’s legal counsel last night tried to assure community members that the State Education Department will continue a separate process against Regan’s certifications, as a result of complaints filed by the district after the principal’s behavior came to light.

The State Education Department refused to confirm that Regan had surrendered his teacher and administrator certificates and would not comment on whether there was any proceeding pending against him there.

“As a general rule, the department will not discuss or release information pertaining to a certified educator under investigation by SED or a school district,” a spokesperson said in an email Nov. 12. “In order to protect the fairness and integrity of our processes, the department does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations.”

The official said “any member of the public may look up the status of the license of an educator” online.

As of today, the State Education Department’s website still shows Regan’s registration status as “registered” and lists his certificates as “issued.”

The scandal last year roiled the school community and the community at large. Among other things, parents questioned the process by which Regan was hired, after Stapon’s attorney brought forward accusations of similar behavior by Regan when he was a teacher in the Eastport school district between 1997 and 2002. Regan came to Riverhead as a high school assistant principal in 2006 and was promoted to principal in 2013.

“It is about time that someone finally did something about this whole situation but it doesn’t solve what has been done already to Anastasia and others,” Ray said today. “The schools, especially the public schools in Suffolk County are largely a disgrace when it comes to this sort of thing.”

In September, Ray filed a second federal lawsuit against Regan, also naming the Eastport-South Manor School District and its present and former officials. That suit, on behalf of a 35-year-old woman who accuses Regan of sexual abuse and rape when she was a 16-year-old high school student in Eastport, also remains pending.

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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.