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Board Mistakenly Approves Posteraro Termination, Then Quickly Rescinds

Meanwhile, parents still seek answers.

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.

Nick Folger June 27, 2011 at 06:15 PM
From Schedule A, it looks like they had the replacement teacher in place. Wow! that was fast!
Irishdave June 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM
Good thing it was in the cafeteria easier to get the egg off their faces
Phil Dalton June 28, 2011 at 01:08 PM
I wish the reporter wouldn't describe the public as "venting." It implies that public opinion is something that simply needs to be uttered. It fails to suggest any responsibility on the part of those in office to listen and reply.
Phil Dalton June 28, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Shouldn't they be paid? What's your point? As I see it, if coaching and extracurricular music instruction were required work beyond what is done in the classroom, the board could make anyone do it. Instead, incentives are provided so that qualified people do the work. You seem skeptical of incentives, however. Why you are skeptical is unclear. Is your remark just another suggestion that professional people working for the public should be doing charity?
Phil Dalton June 28, 2011 at 09:21 PM
N'Ptr, Let's just admit that you have a problem with other people getting pensions when you don't get one. It wouldn't matter how much these people made. It brings to mind a joke I've heard: ""A public union employee, a tea party activist, and a CEO are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies in the middle of it. The CEO takes 11 cookies, turns to the tea partier and says, 'Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie.' "" These people, in all likelihood with degrees in music, are getting paid roughly $50/hour. That, to me, is not exorbitant. I also ask you to consider the positive effects that music education has on education overall.
Phil Dalton June 29, 2011 at 06:22 AM
Take, for example, Paul Conefry on page 5. He was awarded $5069. Multipy 25 days by 4 hours and you get 100. Divide $5069 by 100, and you get $50 (and change). I haven't changed the subject. Everything I wrote has bearing on your vague-though-implied point - that detail in Schedule A evidences the teachers are being actually paid to PREPARE to teach, and to TEACH, and that their contracts give them SICK DAYS. You implied some injustice here. So, I did the math and quantified the injustice. These professionals are, during the summer months when they aren't contractually required to teach (in Elwood, for instance, classes nearing 30 pupils per class), being given compensation for teaching at the "exorbitant" rate of $50/hour. Can you provide evidence that summer supplementary compensation is factored into pensions?
Irishdave July 01, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Lets look at a craftsman, how about a painter? Does he include clean up time and setup time in his estimate? A mechanic orders parts, cleans up after himself, an office worker straightens his/her desk before leaving for the day. Many times summer programs are not held in the teacher "home" school there is much to do when setting up a summer program, ordering supplies, scheduling time, etc. Teaching is more than Face time in front of a classroom full of kids. Also teachers start anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks before the kids show up I guess that should be worked for free? Why shouldn't summer work be included in retirement that is still work! Remember teachers are only paid for 185 to 190 days depending on the state and district, of work a year, no paid holidays or paid vacation, whereas other workers are paid 261 days a year which includes paid holidays and paid vacation. If teachers were paid for working year round the payroll would increase by about 35% to 40%. But that would be just one more thing for you to complain about.
Debbie Sullivan July 07, 2011 at 06:40 AM
Phil, in this case, venting is all that the public could do. Parents were told by district counsel that because this is a personnel issue, the privacy of the individual must be maintained and the Board would not be able to comment.

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