Dr. Augustine Tornatore, after his appointment as superintendent of the Riverhead Central School District on April 27, 2021. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Central School District Superintendent Augustine Tornatore has resigned his position and the district’s top business official is leaving.

The Riverhead Board of Education is scheduled to approve a separation agreement with Tornatore at Tuesday night’s board meeting. Tornatore, who has already signed the agreement, had been on an extended leave of absence since Oct. 6 that was scheduled to end yesterday.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Rodney Asse, the district’s business official, is also leaving the district, he said in a text message in response to an inquiry from RiverheadLOCAL Tuesday afternoon. Asse did not respond to a follow-up message asking why he was leaving. His district email address is no longer functioning. An email sent to him at his school district email address bounced as “address not found.”

Tornatore will be paid the balance of his salary and the value of 10 vacation days in one lump sum payment, a total of $192,998.80, as well as receive payments to his retirement account totaling $15,771.40, according to the separation agreement. He will also receive health and dental insurance coverage until the end of the school year or until he finds employment, the agreement states. Tornatore’s 2023-2024 salary was $256,250 per year. He was hired by Riverhead in April 2021, effective July 1 of that year.

The board’s agenda also shows that William Galati, the district’s executive director for secondary education, grants and student outcomes, who served as acting superintendent in Tornatore’s absence, will continue as interim superintendent through Oct. 29. He will be paid $300 per day in addition to his current salary for his role in as acting/interim superintendent, according to an agreement posted with the resolution on the district’s website.

The school board will also vote tonight to appoint an interim superintendent effective Oct. 30. Cheryl Pedisich, will take over in that role and continue until the end of the school year on June 30, if the resolution is passed by the school board. Pedisich was the superintendent for a decade in the Three Village Central School District, a school district on the North Shore with a similar student size to the Riverhead Central School District, before her retirement in 2022. Pedisich will be paid $1,200 per day as interim superintendent. 

Pedisich was hired by the Riverhead Board of Education last year as the district’s interim director of special education and pupil personnel services after the person who held the position left. She stayed on as a consultant to help transition the new administrator hired by the district.

The board is scheduled to vote to appoint Marianne Cartisano as the district’s acting superintendent for business to replace Asse until the end of the school year at a rate of $1,200 per day, according to the agenda. Neither a resolution accepting Asse’s resignation nor a separation agreement with Asse were posted on the district’s website as of publication of this article. It is not known whether the district will be buying out Asse’s contract. He was paid $194,750 per year.

Asse was also removed from his position as deputy purchasing agent. Christine Peters, a confidential office assistant and assistant purchasing agent, is being promoted to deputy purchasing agent. She will be paid $82,000 per year, prorated for the balance of the year, in the new position.

Two additional appointments in the business office are also on the board’s agenda Tuesday: an assistant payroll supervisor and an employee benefits supervisor.

Correction and clarification: Assistant Superintendent for Business Rodney Asse has not resigned from his position as originally reported in this article. The school board did not take any action on Asse’s employment at its Oct. 24 meeting, though the board did appoint an acting superintendent for business to replace Asse until the end of the school year at a rate of $1,200 per day. District officials said last night that Asse was still employed by the district and refused to provide any more details about the status of his Asse’s employment.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.

Avatar photo
Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com