Riverhead Central School District’s longtime business official, sidelined since October by an investigation into unspecified charges, according to district officials, will be paid his full compensation through the end of current school year under a settlement agreement signed by the district in January.
Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Sam Schneider, who was hired by the district in 2011, will be paid his full salary, flex plan benefits, tax-sheltered annuity payment and unused vacation time in a lump sum within 20 days of his resignation, according to the agreement, which was obtained by RiverheadLOCAL through a Freedom of Information Law request.
Under his current employment contract, Schneider is paid an annual salary of $212,069, plus benefits. His current one-year contract expires June 30.
The school board authorized the settlement agreement on Jan. 25, without identifying Schneider.
Schneider, who was hired by the East Hampton Union Free School District on Tuesday, told RiverheadLOCAL he would resign from his current position in Riverhead if he were hired. Superintendent Augustine Tornatore said Tuesday if Schneider were hired by East Hampton, Riverhead would accept Schneider’s resignation at its meeting on March 8.
The settlement agreement required Schneider to tender a conditional resignation to the district, to be held by the district’s law firm while Schneider sought new employment. It also require him to “make reasonable efforts to secure employment outside the District” and to release the resignation upon finding new employment.
Schneider held the title of deputy superintendent until the position was abolished and he was “reassigned” pending an investigation begun in October into an undisclosed allegation by an employee. That investigation will be closed, according to the settlement agreement.
Since his “reassignment,” district officials have said little about the investigation into Schneider or his employment status in the district, often refusing to answer questions posed by both reporters and active community members at board of education meetings, citing restrictions against discussing personnel matters. Tornatore on Tuesday refused to say what Schneider’s duties were during his “reassignment.”
The agreement states that “certain differences have arisen between Mr. Schneider, on the one hand, and the Board and Superintendent, on the other hand” and “the parties have agreed to seek a resolution of their differences pursuant to the terms of this Settlement Agreement.”
The agreement includes a clause stating the parties “shall not disparage each other at any time, nor knowingly make any untrue statements with respect to each other hereunder.”
The agreement also includes a statement to be given to press after Schneider’s resignation. The statement says “the District conducted an investigation into an allegation lodged against Mr. Schneider by an employee of the District; the District has determined that there is no meaningful reason to continue that investigation.
“The District and Mr. Schneider have determined that it is in their mutual best interest to separate at this time,” the statement continues. “The District and Mr. Schneider have executed a Separation Agreement, pursuant to which Mr. Schneider’s resignation is effective” on the date of his resignation.
The district hired Volz & Vigliotta, a law firm in Nesconset that often represents school districts in litigation, to conduct the investigation into Schneider, Board President Laurie Downs said in October.
The district also hired Nawrocki Smith, a regional accounting firm in Melville, to conduct a forensic audit of the district’s financial records on Nov. 1, which Tornatore said was a part of the investigation into Schneider. The forensic audit is not yet completed, the district said today in response to a Freedom of Information law request for the audit report.
The agreement states Schneider was to “make reasonable efforts to secure employment outside the District, and shall, from time to time, advise the District as to which school districts he has made application to.” Any reference or recommendation for Schneider’s job search would be made to Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Christine Tona, according to the agreement.
Currently, the district’s business duties are being performed by Acting Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Faith Caglianone, who was hired on an “as-needed basis” on Dec. 1 at $100 an hour. The district hired an “acting business official,” Herb Chessler, prior to hiring Caglianone. Chessler resigned after she was hired.
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