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Apr 27, 2016 10:15 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton School District Not Required To Withhold Findings Of Farina Investigation, State Open Government Official Says

Dr. Scott Farina
Apr 27, 2016 10:15 AM

Southampton School District officials continue to say that they will not release the findings of an investigation into unnamed allegations against former Superintendent Dr. Scott Farina.

While district officials and School Board members have said they are prohibited from releasing that information, because it could be a potential “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” Robert Freeman, executive director for the State Committee on Open Government, said the district is not prohibited from distributing it. The Freedom of Information Law allows the board to choose to withhold the findings under certain circumstances, he noted, but it still is a choice made by the board.

The district last week denied a Freedom of Information Law request filed by The Press for the findings of an investigation into unspecified allegations made against Dr. Farina, conducted by the Garden City-based firm Jaspan Schlesinger LLP, following his resignation on April 15, for which he will receive a nearly $300,000 payout. In its denial, the district cited “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” and “other” as the reasons, although the line next to “other” to explain it was left blank. The Press plans to appeal that decision this week.

Similarly, The Press had filed a FOIL request with the Eastport South Manor School District for any complaints made against former Superintendent Mark Nocero during his tenure that may have led to that district’s School Board accepting his abrupt retirement on March 16. In that case, The Press was also denied, nearly a month later, for “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

Mr. Freeman explained that the courts have ruled that FOIL allows public entities to withhold information, but doesn’t mandate that they do so. “When access is governed by the [Freedom of Information Law], that law is permissive—it authorizes an agency to deny access. But ordinarily it doesn’t not require that a government agency withhold it,” he said. “In this instance, I know of no law that would prohibit disclosure … unless that document contains information about a student.”

According to the law, an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of a public employee includes disclosing records involving medical or credit histories; giving out personal information, such as names, addresses and phone numbers, for solicitation or fundraising purposes; and releasing personal information to an entity or individual in a situation where it is not relevant to the person’s professional position.

Mr. Freeman said that when information that a public entity is withholding is of great interest to its constituents—such as the resignation of a school district superintendent—then the public interest tends to outweigh the need to protect privacy. “Certainly, there’s an interest in knowing how and why public money is being expended. Whether that outweighs the ability or desire to protect privacy, in this case, is open to question,” he said. “However, certainly, school district officials should be taking a second look before they simply say, ‘No.’”

The school district’s attorney, Tom Volz of the Nesconset-based law offices of Thomas M. Volz PLLC, did not return a call seeking comment.

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We as taxpayer's are the board's boss so turn over the damn papers! Stupid arrogant crap
By chief1 (2702), southampton on Apr 27, 16 11:51 AM
2 members liked this comment
And the plot thickens~
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Apr 27, 16 11:56 AM
This Board should release details on the nature and findings of the investigation. If they do not the community MUST vote out these Board members and vote in another Board that will release the findings.

It seems to me the individuals who were elected should have the interests of the Community and children at heart. Instead they seem to be looking out for themselves and a handful of well-paid administrators. Either Farina did something wrong or as some comments indicate he was a change ...more
By Funbeer (260), Southampton on Apr 27, 16 1:09 PM
The board is once again lying! Just remember taxpayers the buget vote and the new building for an administration offices are coming up. Is the board too stupid to refuse information on facts when their buget can potentially be turned down .Taxpayers money is being used for all this., Information must be given !
By bayview (156), Southampton on Apr 27, 16 1:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
They don't need public approval for the building. They've been stockpiling money for years. Its an all cash deal.
By Draggerman (894), Southampton on Apr 27, 16 8:03 PM
Can someone file a freedom of information request to compel them to release it?
By Rich Morey (356), East Hampton on Apr 27, 16 1:57 PM
The Southampton Press did, and the school district denied it, according to the article above.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Apr 27, 16 2:52 PM
Sorry I missed that part!
By Rich Morey (356), East Hampton on Apr 27, 16 4:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
To the Board : Either release all pertinent information or be terminated , the end!
By bigfresh (4314), north sea on Apr 27, 16 6:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
If they don't release the info even after a foil vote them out. Someone must be up this year election is soon. Everybody in Southampton school district should vote this year tell the school who the boss is, remember school board members you work for the benifit of the taxpayers. Why is the board protecting Farina, who does he have info on.
By lawnman (21), easthampton on Apr 27, 16 7:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
Most here just want something to gossip about!



By Frank Wheeler (1811), Northampton on Apr 27, 16 7:44 PM
Obviously U have no children in this WRECK of a non-functioning School District I U did you too would be very worried !
By carsrus (65), Hampton Bays on Apr 28, 18 4:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
Two board positions open. five candidates.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Apr 28, 16 12:17 AM
Yeah Frank most here want gossip. Just like your friend Brad Bender the rat drug addict, drug dealer.
By chief1 (2702), southampton on Apr 28, 16 8:28 AM
To me, it seems that the board is refusing to release the information because not only will it look bad on Farina but also the Board and how long they allowed him to conduct his behavior that has brought them to this point. The fish stinks at the head here. How about we all go in a rap video with drugs and sex and then get a $140k/yr job being "head of security" to sit in an office all day so she "has no direct contact with the children" and then do even more disgusting behavior and get $300k ...more
By THalsey1 (3), Southampton on Apr 28, 16 1:05 PM
3 members liked this comment
Get out and vote people, this affects everyone's tax bill.
By Sagdays (23), Southampton on Apr 28, 16 1:20 PM
Who are the current board members? Which two spots are up for election? Who are the candidates?
By Killerfrog (34), Southampton on Apr 28, 16 1:38 PM
Wilson's and Palumbio's positions are open.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Apr 28, 16 11:20 PM
Running for BOE positions according to the Southampton Press:
Donna Gagliardo
James McKenna
Jacqueline Robinson
Tracey Koszaka
Anastasia Gavales
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Apr 29, 16 3:19 PM
Following the update in which Freeman states FOIL allows the TAXPAYERS WASTING THEIR MONEY ON THIS LAWBREAKER to know what this poor excuse for being a MAN did - C'MON School Board - let the people know what exactly this man's crimes are that he is being paid to undoubtedly continue.... Step up to the plate School Board - show some leadership to your community and to the kids in school for heaven's sake!
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Apr 28, 16 1:57 PM
300 /310 Hampton Road purchase proposal , Proposition #3- Vote NO!
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Apr 30, 16 12:28 PM
How about we investigate how the chief of hiring there hires friends, and family not the best for the job? The whole school needs to clean house with the administrators, and the busy bodies working in the office. The school is a complete mess, and the idiot Farina wanted to inject the Tuckahoe School into the mess.
By chief1 (2702), southampton on Apr 30, 16 9:49 PM
Don't give up demanding the info on Farina. When and if the records are made public, the town is gonna lose their minds. Keep seeking the facts.
By eastendgemini (7), southampton on May 3, 16 4:29 PM
Agree.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 4, 16 1:16 PM
Wonder if the district has released the $300,000 yet? They met in executive session last night and discussed personnel and legal matters, according to the BOE President.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 4, 16 1:18 PM
BOE candidate, Jim McKenna, asked the BOE last night, again for transparency.
The community wants to know where that $money$ is coming from!
No formal response.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 4, 16 1:22 PM
not required?so they could if they wanted to release all details? let's get real here board of ed and make the findings public so the voters can make an informed reasonNOT TO VOTE FOR ANY INCUMBENTS !!!If all vote against the budget and all other propositions where will the Board stand? for shame BOE members
By xtiego (696), bridgehampton on May 4, 16 6:50 PM
not required?so they could if they wanted to release all details? let's get real here board of ed and make the findings public so the voters can make an informed reasonNOT TO VOTE FOR ANY INCUMBENTS !!!If all vote against the budget and all other propositions where will the Board stand? for shame BOE members
By xtiego (696), bridgehampton on May 4, 16 6:50 PM
FYI there are no incumbents running this year for the two positions.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 5, 16 10:52 AM
Does anyone know why the art museum and the public library are not on the same ballot this year? Do they no longer want to be affiliated with the school district after all that has gone on?
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 5, 16 11:10 AM
Keep Columbus Day!
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 5, 16 12:37 PM
The Meet the Candidates Night had a full house. Good questions were asked.
The audience heard from both the questions and the answers, the strengths and the weaknesses of both the candidates and and the school district. Since the BOE has not attempted to address many worrisome issues, send a message that they cannot ignore, neighbors, vote on May 17. School budget and building proposal is on the line. Make your voices clear. This message cannot be ignored, swept under the rug, or kicked down ...more
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 7, 16 10:50 AM
The intire school board should resign. Vote the incumbents out ! At least there will be two sane people on the board. This board is despicable welding their power to the taxpayers like this.
By bayview (156), Southampton on May 8, 16 11:18 AM
There are NO INCUMBENTS running for BOE in Southampton SD,
only five new candidates vying for two open positions.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 9, 16 5:00 PM
vote NO on all propositions and demand a whole explanation of the farina incident
By xtiego (696), bridgehampton on May 9, 16 5:04 PM
Exercise your right to vote! Vote NO on Proposition # 3-
the administration building for $7,750,000
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 17, 16 12:24 PM
Southampton School District........... Out of control BOARD MEMBERS who need to be replaced ! An administration fraught with conspiracy and in fighting ! Truly , the most corrupt, poorly run district on the east end. One can compare it with Hempstead !
By carsrus (65), Hampton Bays on Apr 28, 18 4:09 PM
bay street, sag harbor,