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Sep 9, 2014 10:45 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Part-Time Athletic Trainer Threatens To Sue Eastport South Manor Over Hiring

Sep 10, 2014 8:41 AM

An attorney representing a longtime Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School health teacher said his client is considering suing the district over a decision to bring on a full-time athletic trainer—a move that, consequently, cuts her salary by more than $20,000.

Vesselin Mitev, of Ray, Mitev and Associates in Miller Place, approached the Board of Education last Wednesday, September 3, during the public comment portion of the meeting and said his client, Kathryn Radice of Southampton, was debating whether to take legal action after the board reappointed her as a part-time athletic trainer for the district. For the past 10 years, Ms. Radice had served as the district’s only athletic trainer and, last year, received a stipend of $43,361 for the part-time position. She also earned a base salary of $94,000 as a full-time health teacher at the high school.

But at the end of last year, the district decided that one athletic trainer was not sufficient to meet the needs of its student athletes. So, last week, board members hired Jason Long as their new full-time athletic trainer and agreed to pay him $57,921 for the 2014-15 school year. Mr. Long does not hold another position in the district.

“The notion that they have put her on as part time makes no sense, because, for the longest time, she handled job of full-time athletic trainer and more,” Mr. Mitev said when reached last Thursday.

In exchange for last year’s $43,361 stipend, Ms. Radice’s duties as an athletic trainer included attending games and clearing injured students for play. Also, athletic trainers typically provide first aid during sporting events, if necessary.

As a part-time athletic trainer, Ms. Radice will now earn $38 per hour and work about 15 hours per week, which comes to about $570 per week, according to Eastport South Manor Schools Superintendent Mark Nocero. If she works 15 hours per week for all 35 weeks of the school calendar year, she should earn $19,950 this year—or $23,441 less than last year’s stipend.

Ms. Radice said she believes her two jobs gel together perfectly, adding that, in her opinion, it was unnecessary and unfair for the board to hire a new person after making the position full time.

“Being in the building from the start of the teaching day and remaining accessible to the students as well as coaches until the completion of varsity competitions, is invaluable,” Ms. Radice wrote in a prepared statement. “I have truly valued the role that I as an athletic trainer play as a mentor in the lives of students who are often faced with the most difficult challenges of their lives during the various stages of the injury process.”

District officials acknowledged Ms. Radice’s commitment to the district at last week’s meeting, but did not have the opportunity to address her as she and her attorney exited immediately after he spoke. “We hold Ms. Radice in the highest regard,” Mr. Nocero said during the meeting.

He later explained that due to Ms. Radice’s teaching commitments, she would not be able to handle the additional duties that come with the new full-time athletic trainer position. Essentially, Mr. Nocero said the board does not think Ms. Radice could hold both full-time positions. He also noted that, as a health teacher, Ms. Radice is contracted to work until 2:15 p.m. each day, pointing out that the full-time athletic trainer will start work at 1 p.m. daily.

“I think for somebody who’s expected to teach all day and then do that is unreasonable,” Mr. Nocero said, noting that Mr. Long will begin the workday at 1 p.m. and attend evening games.

Mr. Mitev was retained by Ms. Radice at the beginning of the summer. Ms. Radice acknowledged during an interview this week that she did not apply for the full-time athletic director position because she felt that she should be able to continue doing both jobs. She also noted that she was asked by district officials to sit on the hiring committee but declined the offer.

“The need for an athletic trainer is not the issue,” Mr. Mitev said. “The issue is who is most qualified and who is best suited to meet the needs of the district.”

Up until last week, Mr. Mitev said Ms. Radice was trying to resolve the issue through her union, the Eastport South Manor Teachers’ Association. But when the Board of Education approved her part-time position, consequently giving her a pay cut, Mr. Mitev said it was his time to step in.

Mr. Mitev contends that it was unfair of the district to ask Ms. Radice to choose between her teaching position and the school’s athletic trainer post because she had been juggling both for so long. “They should have hired a part-time athletic trainer to help her,” he said.

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Since when do employees get to dictate how the employer decides to run its company or in this case its school district?
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Sep 12, 14 4:31 PM
Ms Radice deserves the best. One of the good ones. School administrators wasteed money on a full time position. And shame on the school board for agreeing. A lot of politics at Esm needs to stop. Go get them Mrs Radice a lot of people are behind You!!!
By momom (25), Manorville on Sep 12, 14 5:29 PM
Community members asked for a part-timer to help her not a full time position!
By momom (25), Manorville on Sep 12, 14 5:59 PM
Community members asked for a part-timer to help her not a full time position!
By momom (25), Manorville on Sep 12, 14 5:59 PM
Wow 43k for a part time job 9 months out of the year. The district should be countersuing for overpayment to this teacher. This is yet another example of double dipping govt workers trying to push their weight around.
By chief1 (2726), southampton on Sep 13, 14 1:26 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Johnny P (3), Southampton on Sep 13, 14 5:20 AM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser