Anyone who stayed until the end of the Northport Board of Education meeting on June 20 witnessed something rather unusual.
During the course of the meeting, trustees approved Schedule "A" – a memo from Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Dr. Terry Bouton – which listed numerous personnel actions for certified staff. Page five of the 14-page document, item 40, read: Termination (Education Law 3031) Effective July 20, 2011 (end of day): Posteraro, Rebecca, Teacher of Music. A copy of the complete document is attached in pdf form to this article.
Posteraro was abruptly in May without explanation. The move caused an uproar in the district, with parents wanting answers. Her attorneys have since .
There was no discussion of Posteraro by trustees during the review and approval of Schedule A, and the meeting adjourned shortly thereafter so the Board could convene into executive session to discuss personnel issues. Before he left the William Brosnan cafeteria, Board President Stephen Waldenburg was asked about Posteraro’s termination. After taking another look at Schedule A, he said it was an error and that item 40 should have been excluded.
John Gross, district counsel from Ingerman Smith was in the cafeteria at the time. When asked about the termination, he shook his head and said Posteraro hadn’t been terminated. However, when shown page 5 of Schedule A, he quickly walked over to Waldenburg. After a brief conversation, the two called over Superintendent Marylou McDermott.
Moments later, Waldenburg called trustees and the few remaining members of the public back into the cafeteria. “It has been brought to my attention that there is an error on Schedule A,” he said. The board quickly reconvened into public session. Item 40 was removed and Schedule A was then re-approved.
Earlier in the evening, parents had spoken up in support of the music teacher. Parent Halle Perles said she was “disheartened” by the lack of information coming from the district, and wanted to know the criteria used when dismissing a teacher during the school year. She said parents had yet to hear from either McDermott, any Board members, or Bellerose Principal Barbara Falotico, and asked again for a closed door session with the Board, just so parents could vent their concerns and frustrations.
Parent Jenna Rugile, who had spoken at the June 6 board meeting, again expressed her frustration that the Bellerose fifth grade chorus had yet to be acknowledged by either the District or in the Our News newsletter for winning the top prize at the New York State School Music Association competition under the direction of Posteraro.
Waldenburg apologized, saying “I’m sorry that we haven’t been able to give any information out of respect to the individual.”
Other parents expressed frustration that their correspondence wasn’t even acknowledged, and that sometimes emails don’t go through to board members. Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Administration Matt Nelson said that the district is having issues with email, and Waldenburg said, “We’re working to improve the system.”
McDermott suggested that if something is urgent, the best thing to do is to call the school directly.