WELCOME GUEST  |  LOG IN
hamptons local events, express news group
27east.com

Story - News

Jul 27, 2016 10:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton School Administrator Receives Raise Despite Being Effectively Replaced

Jul 27, 2016 10:40 AM

Two months after being escorted out of the Southampton School District’s administrative building, Denise Merchant is still getting paychecks as the director of pupil personnel services—and, in fact, she even got a raise earlier this month.

Officially, Ms. Merchant is still the director, although an interim director of pupil personnel services was appointed in June, essentially replacing her. The School Board has not publicly addressed the matter, but sources have said an investigation is under way that focuses on Ms. Merchant and her department. While that takes place, she is collecting a paycheck but has not reported for work since her replacement was appointed on May 24.

The interim position is being held by Dr. Harmon Cohen, formerly a special education administrator in the Southampton School District, who retired several years ago.

The State Education Department lists all administrative compensation information, and the list shows that Southampton’s director of pupil personnel services is slated to receive a salary of $157,518 for the 2016-17 school year. That is a scheduled 2-percent raise above the 2015-16 school year rate of $154,429 that Ms. Merchant was paid.

When asked via email to confirm that Ms. Merchant is still getting paid and received the 2-percent raise, Interim Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Dyno said, “That is correct.”

“Salaries for any administrators are pursuant to any salary agreements,” said Dr. Dyno in another email. “As you know, beyond that, I can’t discuss personnel matters.”

He, and other school district officials, have continued to remain mum on the circumstances surrounding any investigation, or Ms. Merchant’s official status with the district.

“Unfortunately, there is nothing new at this time to add/say about the investigative process concerning Ms. Merchant,” Southampton Board of Education President Roberta Hunter said in an email this week.

The school district’s Nesconset-based attorney, Tom Volz, did not return multiple calls seeking comment.

Ms. Merchant has held the position since August 30, 2010, and received tenure in 2013.

According to the district’s website, the office of pupil personnel service offers “a range of services, from part-time to full-time special education.”

At the same time it appointed Dr. Cohen to take over leadership of the special education program, the School Board voted to hire Garden City-based firm Jaspan Schlesinger LLP to “provide attorney services to the district as presented,” according to a prepared statement that Dr. Dyno read aloud. The same agency investigated former Superintendent Dr. Scott Farina earlier this year—leading to his resignation in April—and sources have confirmed that Ms. Merchant is the focus of the investigation this time around.

According to New York State Education Law, tenured educators have the right to retain their positions and can be terminated only if there is “just cause.” The educator in almost all circumstances is entitled to receive full pay and benefits throughout the duration of the disciplinary process.

At a School Board meeting on Tuesday, an audience member asked the board, during the public comment portion, about generally not being able to discuss personnel matters.

“We are restricted through the law, really, in regards to personnel matters and just how detailed we can ever speak to the public in regards to personnel matters,” Ms. Hunter responded. “We have gotten legal advice on this, and we are in the correct parameters in terms of protecting details that involve individual personnel of our school district. And that’s really the extent that the board has been able to comment.”

You've read 1 of 7 free articles this month.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

What??? I'm speechless!
By ShelleyB (28), East Hampton on Jul 27, 16 11:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
This kind of stuff happens in districts all across Long Island. And we wonder why our property taxes are so high. The inmates are running the asylum.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Jul 27, 16 11:38 AM
3 members liked this comment
Why do we let these administrators continue to give away our tax dollars to these accused and damaged "soon to be ex-employees".

We don't raise our voices enough!

Shame on us.
By FiddlerCrab (96), Westhampton Beach on Jul 29, 16 10:20 AM
You are exactly right, parents can have control if they raise their voices. The problem is, parents do not know how to group together to become that power called "strength in numbers". Meanwhile, your children are suffering, your money is being taken, and these administrators are stuffing their pockets with your money, while NOT working or blatantly performing unscrupulous behaviors. You are right shame on us for allowing this to happen to our children.
By A_Concerned_Parent (37), manorville on Jul 30, 16 8:41 AM
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT is going on here??!!
By bigfresh (4661), north sea on Jul 27, 16 4:59 PM
Bravo Uniform Lima Lima Sierra Hotel India Tango....
By Draggerman (954), Southampton on Jul 27, 16 9:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
bs is going on.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 27, 16 7:05 PM
TENURE. LOL. INSURANCE FOR THE FEEBLE MINDED AND INCOMPENTS
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Jul 27, 16 8:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
TENURE. LOL. INSURANCE FOR THE FEEBLE MINDED AND INCOMPETENTS
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Jul 27, 16 8:10 PM
“We are restricted through the law, really, in regards to personnel matters and just how detailed we can ever speak to the public in regards to personnel matters"

Does in bother anyone else when someone uses the plural of "regard" when in reference to a subject, when "Regards" is a closing at the end of a correspondence?
By Mr. Z (11828), North Sea on Jul 27, 16 8:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
I believe it's correct of the subject noun is plural
By smacw (240), New York on Jul 30, 16 1:19 AM
"In regards to" is never, ever correct.

It's like saying "irregardless".
By Mr. Z (11828), North Sea on Jul 30, 16 4:17 AM
1 member liked this comment
NOBODY GIVES A CRAP
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jul 31, 16 9:21 PM
The libs destroy every institution they touch- from the FBI to the Nobel prize committee to the SCOTUS to the US public education system.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Jul 28, 16 5:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
Brovo! The press is (somewhat) printing comments from the public.
By April1 (156), Southampton on Jul 28, 16 8:45 AM
What a joke. More money being wasted on POOR ADMINISTRATION of OUR school district!!!! Incompetent administrators, legal fees, and excessive payouts take away from programs for the children. The entire Board and Administration should be investigated and audited for their practices by an outside agency.

Jul 28, 16 9:14 AM appended by foodwhiner
"it is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives." ~MO - plagiarized
By foodwhiner (148), Southampton on Jul 28, 16 9:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
UNBELIEVABLE. JUST UNBELIEVABLE.
STOP BLEEDING TAXPAYERS DRY PAYING ALL THESE PEOPLE WHO HAVE TROUBLE PERFORMING THEIR JOBS ETHICALLY AND RESPONSIBLY!!!!!!!!!!
By Shinnecock Hills family (59), Southampton on Jul 28, 16 6:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
THIS IS WHY YOUR TAXES DON"T STOP RISING.

Insane.
By FiddlerCrab (96), Westhampton Beach on Jul 29, 16 10:06 AM
Unions are corrupt
so are the politicians running the show
By yassar arafar (33), sag harbor on Jul 29, 16 10:34 AM
Public education: Where both labor and management are united against both the consumers and the stakeholders
By smacw (240), New York on Jul 30, 16 1:03 AM
1 member liked this comment
I can see why she got a raise....
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Jul 30, 16 6:43 AM
Where is the TENURE for the student and the parents?

How about, we guarantee all tax dollars paid by parents will go directly to your children's education.

Instead, it is, we guarantee that all tax dollars paid by parents will go to the corrupt adults in the SH school district.

And the board says “We are restricted through the law, really, in regards to personnel matters and just how detailed we can ever speak to the public in regards to personnel matters,” ...more
By A_Concerned_Parent (37), manorville on Jul 30, 16 8:56 AM
Wow..
By Rich Morey (378), East Hampton on Aug 1, 16 4:47 PM
I don't understand what everybody is upset about. You voted for the school board that caused all this to happen. You got what you voted for.
By bird (828), Sag Harbor on Aug 2, 16 7:12 PM
I don't think they found anything, how long does it take to investigate?
By adczeta (78), Southampton on Aug 4, 16 12:28 PM
1 member liked this comment