Riverhead Central School District's new administrative offices in August 2022. File photo: Denise Civiletti

It baffles me that the vast majority of this district and its residence do not realize who 100% runs this district. It is the Riverhead Central Faculty Association (RCFA), aka the teachers union. They’re the ones who vet the incoming BOE candidates to see just how malleable they are.

The RCFA claims it’s “for the kids,” but it’s not. It’s about getting a BOE that will vote the way the RCFA wants. Raises, payouts on retirement, sick days, health insurance, indiscretions that go unpunished and the list goes on. If the RCFA does not like a superintendent, they are out! If the RCFA does not like any other administrator, they are out! If the RCFA does not agree with certain decisions made by the superintendent, they’re out; and, to add insult to injury, the RCFA will do its best to reverse those decisions made by the superintendent. Unfortunately, the RCFA has the influence over every current and past RCFA member, along with every member of New York State United Teachers’ Union (NYSUT). This includes all educators, regardless if they worked for RCSD or not. In order to vote, they must reside in the school district. 

In each election, the RCFA sends a letter of endorsement to NYSUT and RCFA members for BOE candidate elections. This endorsement also supports the candidates financially and can include a phone bank of district-wide calls, encouraging the support of specific candidates, lawn signs, online ads and paper ads. Collectively, the RCFA and NYSUT potential votes could equate to well over 1,000 votes. Considering the minute fraction of district residents who actually vote in school district elections, this assures the RCFA’s “endorsed” candidates win the election. It is the epitome of the tail wagging the dog; and, if I were to guess, I would say that are now-resigned superintendent was tired of being bullied by the RCFA because he was not supported by the RCFA-run BOE.

The RCFA has a statewide reputation as a notoriously powerful union. They desperately wanted a former administrator who since left for upstate and now have put in motion their next candidate for superintendent. 
This community needs to wake up and vote in BOE elections. Don’t assume your vote is unimportant. As we are experiencing, it’s so much more than not piercing the 2% tax cap.

Amelia Lantz served on the Riverhead Board of Education from 2010 to 2017. She lives in Riverhead.

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