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Story - Education

May 19, 2010 12:13 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton School Board suspends high school principal and assistant principal, who are then hired by East Hampton

May 19, 2010 12:13 PM

With little more than a month left in the school year, the Southampton School Board abruptly suspended its high school principal, Adam Fine, and assistant principal, Maria Mondini, indefinitely on Monday with no explanation—though Mr. Fine said the move is related to Superintendent Dr. J. Richard Boyes’s displeasure at the two administrators having visited the East Hampton School District last week for job interviews.

That same day, both principals submitted their resignations, effective June 30, Mr. Fine said. And on Tuesday, the East Hampton School Board hired Mr. Fine and Ms. Mondini to become principal and assistant principal, respectively, at East Hampton High School, effective July 1.

The suspensions were handed down at a special meeting of the Southampton School Board on Monday night, one conducted largely in executive session, at the recommendation of Dr. Boyes, who notified Mr. Fine and Ms. Mondini on Sunday evening via e-mail that they were being placed on an indefinite administrative leave and should not to report to work until further notice, Mr. Fine said Wednesday morning.

Mr. Fine maintained that both administrators had informed Dr. Boyes of their interest in the job opportunities at East Hampton in March.

Dr. Boyes refused to comment on the circumstances surrounding the suspensions.

Mr. Fine, who is in his second year at Southampton, and Ms. Mondini, who is in her seventh, will be paid during their leave. Mr. Fine earns $163,554, and Ms. Mondini, who could not be reached for comment as of Wednesday morning, earns $145,956.

Both will see their salaries increase at East Hampton, where Mr. Fine is set to earn $183,400 a year, and Ms. Mondini, $156,100—though Mr. Fine said pay was not at all a factor in either administrator’s decision to apply for the new jobs.

East Hampton’s larger student body—approximately 940 students, compared to 595 students at Southampton High School—allows more course offerings and a greater master schedule, which will allow administrators more flexibility, Mr. Fine said, adding that both he and Ms. Mondini were attracted to the opportunities for professional development in the East Hampton School District.

Dr. Nicholas Dyno, the Southampton School District’s assistant superintendent for instruction, was tapped to take over as interim high school principal. He earns $186,300 and it was unclear Wednesday whether his salary will be adjusted in response to his taking on a new role. Dr. Dyno served as high school principal in Southampton for two school years from 2005 to 2007.

The School Board also hired Robert Barker, a retired former Southampton High School assistant principal, on Tuesday to work as interim assistant principal, at a per diem rate of $500, effective Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, Mr. Fine said he received a phone call from Dr. Boyes on Sunday, repeating the same information that was in the e-mail—that he was being placed on administrative leave.

“I asked the superintendent to please elaborate. I said, ‘Rich, can you elaborate further? I don’t understand,’” Mr. Fine said Wednesday. “He said it was in regard to events that took place on Thursday—and the only thing I did on Thursday was go to East Hampton and interview. I’ve never been given the exact specifics of why I’m home.”

Dr. Boyes and members of the School Board have not offered a reason for the suspensions and have repeatedly refused to discuss how they could make such a major decision without providing any explanation. Their official statement said only that it was a “personnel matter that has no connection to our students, staff, community or law enforcement.”

Mr. Fine said he and Ms. Mondini had kept Dr. Boyes informed of their interest in the East Hampton positions to the extent they could without jeopardizing their jobs in Southampton. They each took a personal day last Thursday to attend the interview but did not report the reasons for the time off to Dr. Boyes, Mr. Fine said. While they were gone, Sarah McGuire, a student dean, oversaw operations at the school.

When Mr. Fine returned to school on Friday, he said Dr. Boyes told him that he was displeased with what transpired on Thursday.

The next he heard from the superintendent was to inform him of the suspension. Since then, Mr. Fine’s and Ms. Mondini’s attorney, Brad Steuhler, has been handling communications between the school and suspended staff members.

Although the hiring in East Hampton wasn’t done until Tuesday, school officials in Montauk and Springs, which send high school students to East Hampton, accused East Hampton school officials of having made their minds up earlier, and without input from the feeder districts.

Neither was invited to Monday’s hastily called meeting in East Hampton, and Mr. Fine said he learned afterward from his union representative, Tim Frazier, the Southampton Intermediate School principal, that the action was taken unanimously by the board.

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"A Man and a Woman" ???

Tonight's board meeting should be interesting!

Editor, could you post the Syntax [sin tax?] statement tomorrow please?
By PBR (4883), Southampton on May 18, 10 5:08 PM
2 members liked this comment
PBR, do you suggest that there was something "racy" here?
By Frank Wheeler (1806), Northampton on May 18, 10 6:11 PM
Its kinda what I thought as well based on the way they stressed that it had nothing to do with the students at all...
By SESMOMOF2 (21), SOUTHAMPTON on May 18, 10 6:58 PM
Frankly speaking, I guess we shall see.

You can't make this stuff up !!!
By PBR (4883), Southampton on May 18, 10 7:04 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By highschoolsenior (4), Southampton on May 19, 10 10:15 AM
"True stuff is the funniest..."
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on May 22, 10 12:52 AM
BTW, "highschoolsenior", I'm twice your age, and it took over a year before I had a comment removed.

Remember, have respect no matter what, and, if you want a racy comment to be viewed, post it at a high traffic time of day.

Oh, and I hope this doesn't get deleted for revealing "trade secrets".

Above all else, be respectful beyond permit. It will only build your character...
May 22, 10 1:09 AM appended by Mr. Z
Did ya' notice how your comment count doesn't go up, when you reply to your own? Darn creative programmers over here...
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on May 22, 10 1:09 AM
Just to nip this at the bud: We're working on an update to the story that will be posted shortly, but it appears the Southampton School Board's actions came as the result of the two administrators apparently being named as likely new hires in EH--something that appears to have caught the Southampton School Board by surprise.

I just want to make sure people didn't read anything more into the sketchy details that were first available.

Watch for updates throughout tomorrow's print ...more
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (201), Hampton Bays on May 18, 10 7:05 PM
Shawl wish you would post the Syntax statement ASAP if everything is so innocent.

If this is a simple matter of two people quitting to move to EH Schools, why was the announcement so secretive and hasty?

Hmmmm ???
By PBR (4883), Southampton on May 18, 10 7:57 PM
My understanding is that these two candidates have been being 'courted' for a looooong time. Other interviews were merely conducted to meet the rules of NYState hiring practices. Sorry to all you 'faux' candidates who wasted your time, energy and hope for a position(s) that had already been decided upon.

So since these superintendents have been in E.Hampton, this will be the 3rd principal in a matter of how many years? Hmmm...
By wifey (2), manorville on May 18, 10 7:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sometimes circumstances do not permit instant change, which normally leads to the addiction to "TIG" (i.e., "total instant gratification", insert comma if necessary).

Being "courted" can mean" 1. We respect you, and expect your canidacy to help fix a desperate issue. 2. We see you, and by some clandestine arrangement, you have come to our attention. 3. We know you could be "in our pocket", and would like you for the position.

OR, 4, which I would hope for:

4. We see ...more
May 22, 10 1:35 AM appended by Mr. Z
"So, which is it, Clyde?"
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on May 22, 10 1:35 AM
Please list your source for definitions... Websters? Britanica? I'm no Sherlock but your definitions speak volumes about your identity :)
By wifey (2), manorville on May 24, 10 11:21 AM
And?

If you know me, say "Hi" sometime when you see me in the street.
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on Jun 18, 10 1:43 AM
do you think that southampton school district students are getting a $34,000/year education? that's the number you get when you divide the school budget by the number of students.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on May 18, 10 7:55 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By highschoolsenior (4), Southampton on May 19, 10 10:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
And what, exactly, does that have to do with the issue at hand?
By LocalMom (36), Southampton on May 20, 10 5:35 PM
Have you ever heard "Angry Young Man", by Billy Joel?

We have.

I think this young man should LISTEN to it.

Or, perhaps, I'm being obtuse. What say you, LocalMom?
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on May 22, 10 1:50 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on May 28, 10 8:36 AM
What my removed comment stated was that Mr Z should stop drinking before he types on these blog's, it makes him sound ridiculous.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Jun 5, 10 1:52 AM
It may not be related to students, staff or community but it DOES have an effect/affect to all. They are probably suspended with pay so they will have a paid vacation while awaiting their new positions.(If in fact it is true that they are going to Easthampton). So on the agenda tonight is to hire Bob Barker as Vice Principal of the High School at $500/day. He did do a nice job in that position in the past. Fine and Mondini do NOT have tenure in their current positions(Did they jump ship too soon?). ...more
By macfish3 (4), water mill on May 18, 10 8:03 PM
Yes, Amala is going to Riverhead. A good move for her. She lives there. Sad about Mr. Fine and Ms. Mondini. Sounds like internal problems to me!!!!
By powerwalker (52), Southampton on May 18, 10 9:44 PM
I too wonder what's happening. If all was well, why would they leave? The board was taken by surprise? It had no inkling its top two were considering moving on? Something doesn't feel right. Perhaps the board needs to think back on its discussions with them to see if there were any serious differences of opinions they should have picked up on over the past two years. Any red flags they missed such as conflicts with the new superintendent or disagreements about school policies. It's not easy to find ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on May 18, 10 11:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
Goldnerod: Adam Fine was NOT a good person for SHHS. Ask any student; he had the personality of a fish compared to the principal he replaced. Now he's East Hampton's problem . . . until a better offer comes along. Of course he may serve as a teaching opportunity: right along side Benedict Arnold.
By SamIAm (35), hampton bays on May 19, 10 6:15 AM
2 members liked this comment
Agreed!

From: the senior class of 2010 at SHS
By highschoolsenior (4), Southampton on May 19, 10 10:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
I liked the former principal too, he should have been kept in place, but I've never heard a complaint about Mr. Fine. He was energetic, upbeat and hard working, and certainly was always thinking about ways to engage the many different kinds of kids served by the school. He definitely related better to students and to parents that the dry guy we had two principals back who went by the book and couldn't wait until his retirement. Something's amiss here.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on May 19, 10 12:52 PM
Believe me, goldenrod. Mr. Fine as a principal only showed interest in himself and his own aspirations within his career, as a former student I can say this with experience of being in his presence.
By youngdem (16), Southampton on May 19, 10 5:58 PM
I don't know anything about these individuals, but what a sorry state of affairs when two people actively looking for jobs elsewhere (and accepting jobs elsewhere) are put on PAID leave until their resignations take effect at the end of June. We reward these bozos with a paid vacation for their unseemly behavior. God bless the teacher's union!
They should both be reassigned to clean toilets or mow the lawns or do SOMETHING useful while they run out the clock. The paid leave is sickening.
By 11962local (5), Sagaponack on May 19, 10 1:10 PM
What, exactly, does the teacher's union have to do with it? These are ADMINISTRATORS, not teachers...
By LocalMom (36), Southampton on May 20, 10 5:36 PM
They are still part of the teacher's union, unless I am mistaken.

By comparison to those who contribute their salaries, they are more substianally well off than most of their, shall we say, "peers".

The bane of the anger is about being too comfortable, while others struggle well harder than they should have to, for less than the same.

But, then again, I could be wrong...
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on May 22, 10 1:41 AM
Why are so many of the readers missing the point of the entire story?! Ms. Mondini and Mr. Fine did not "abandon the students". They were forthcoming with their intentions throughout the process. The SCHOOL BOARD, in conjunction with the school board decided to place the administrators on leave; therefore THE MEMBERS OF THE SCHOOL BOARD AND CENTRAL OFFICE ADMINISTRATION are responsible for neglecting the needs of the students, and the school as a whole, by placing Ms. Mondini and Mr. Fine on leave ...more
By jaylaw (8), southampton on May 19, 10 4:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
The fact of the matter is that these are people that were well trusted by the entire Southampton community - Students, Parents, and families who are looking to eventually enter into SHS. The statement that there is nothing "wrong" with what they did is completely false. When you have the responsibility of overseeing an entire school of 500+ students, and serve as a role model, better form should be executed. I completely agree with the board's decision. I have questioned their decision to hire Fine ...more
By youngdem (16), Southampton on May 19, 10 6:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
I don't know the timing of all this, but it seems extra-ordinary for these personnel issues to be announced, and resolved, in hours or days.

Like the crude oil leaking from the BP well in the Gulf, this melodrama will require further clarification IMO.

Is an adult in charge here? The precipitous announcements of the past two days suggests not IMO.

Childish behavior all around. And these are the people who presume to teach our youth?
By PBR (4883), Southampton on May 19, 10 8:48 PM
What has been resolved? There has not yet been a hire for a new AP or Principal at Southampton High School. Obviously, the reason for the suspension of Mr. Fine and Ms. Mondini has something to do with their hire at East Hampton, which was announced at the board meeting there Tuesday, so what is so extra-ordinary about the timing? Not to mention, the school operates each day, with more than a few people trying to solve problems that arise and keep the schools running smoothly, so what would be so ...more
By LocalMom (36), Southampton on May 20, 10 5:34 PM
Editor, please post the Syntax statement on this.

If not, please explain why we are not entitled to see it.

Thanks.
By PBR (4883), Southampton on May 19, 10 8:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ok... now I have read all the comments very carefully let me just say, thatt I have known Ms. Mondini since I was a freshmen in high school she was my mah teacher. she was the one who made sure I got the services I needed to suceed in the Math class. When I was in high school she was only the dean of stuents and mr. barker was the assitant prinicipal. what you people fail to realize is that your looking at the wrong side of things. now as far as them bein paid for their suspension, I agree with ...more
By tpettaway (11), Southampton on May 19, 10 9:25 PM
Many Rivers to Cross.
By MJP (13), On Quiogue on May 19, 10 9:48 PM
SOUTHAMPTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS THIS ISN'T RIGHT.. I HATE TO BE THE PERSON TO SAY IT. BUT I AM KIND OF UPSET ABOUT THIS BUT I KNOW YOU GUYS DON'T CARE SO IT DOESN'T MATTTER.
By tpettaway (11), Southampton on May 19, 10 11:20 PM
Well, to put all the SH folks at ease.....we'll see what these administrators really have in them. EH is the most challenging community to work in. A board (new board at that who thinks they know everything), and a community that will hang you as soon as disagree with them. And a student body of 1000+, most of which are minorities (soon to be majorities). Good luck with that.
By YEAROUNDER (81), East Hampton on May 20, 10 9:13 AM
because they deserve pay thats y.
By tpettaway (11), Southampton on May 20, 10 6:04 PM
How many people get paid for not working?

How many people like it when they do?

How about:
"They make ENOUGH money as it is, and should plan for this like everyone else who knows what a "rainy day" really the HE** is.

You gave notice, use your vacation time for your "two weeks".

How about a little RESPECT?
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on May 22, 10 2:11 AM
At the end of the day, its a job. They gave notice. I don't know of to many people that give their current employer a heads-up when they are looking for a job. I guess in the field of education things are done differently. In corporate America, you give two weeks notice. I'm trying to understand why they were suspended with pay. So now they are collecting their salaries, and the district is paying Mr. Barker, and Mr. Dyno at the same time. I'm sure Mr. Dyno will receive additional compensation ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 20, 10 9:51 AM
PStevens is correct. I just read on the Hamptonyte Blog that these admins are being suspended WITH pay. What was the point, then? At least make them work for their money, as opposed to getting a head start on their summer vacation. The admins even expressed a desire to do so. And yes, what employee tells their boss that they're interviewing elsewhere? What if they don't get the job they're interviewing for? Then they have to continue working where there's bad blood, or get eased out of the company? ...more
By DrEngine (10), Brookhaven on May 20, 10 12:05 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By tuckahoetrip (46), Water Mill on May 20, 10 3:35 PM
My understanding is that Adam Fine did NOT tell the school he interviewed for EHHS, that he did NOT give notice and that interviewing for another job without approval from the school was a breach of his contract. Why else would there be grounds to suspend him? He's nothing more than a golddigger looking for higher pay. There seems to be more honor in the NFL coaching ranks, where a coach gets permission to be interviewed by another team first and doesn't do it behind everyone's back. I hear Fine ...more
By SamIAm (35), hampton bays on May 20, 10 5:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
As you said, it is YOUR UNDERSTANDING, not the truth. That's why he and Ms. Mondini were suspended WITH PAy--because there are no grounds to suspend them without pay. It was a reactive move rather than a well thought out move, made by members of the school board. The school board obviously cares more about whatever "axe" they "have to grind" rather than the needs of the students.
By jaylaw (8), southampton on May 20, 10 5:30 PM
I'm pretty sure the needs of the students will be met in a far more efficient and caring manner under the watch of Dr. Dyno and Mr. Barker. To abandon an entire school of trusting students and faculty - not to mention a trusting community - is wrong. As I've said before, in a position like principal or assistant principal of a public school, where the PUBLIC is depending on these people (who are paid with the public's dollar), actions such as these cannot be justified. Superintendent Boyes and the ...more
By youngdem (16), Southampton on May 22, 10 12:03 AM
Did I read it right in the news article??? They left their posts during a school day to interview for another job??? Do you mean to tell me that I as a tax payer paid them to go find another job? Are you kidding me? You couldn't wait until you got off at 3:00???? If that is why you got suspended then you deserve it. You left the entire student body to basically fend for themselves why you went out searching for more of the almighty dollars. Shame on you!!!
By localyokel (14), Water Mill on May 20, 10 9:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Even Principal's are entitled to personal days...and they can do whatever they want on those days including interview for a new position.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 26, 10 9:15 AM
Folks, please read the article a bit more carefully. There is a union involved: " ... and Mr. Fine said he learned afterward from his union representative, Tim Frazier, the Southampton Intermediate School principal, that the action was taken unanimously by the board."

And: "They each took a personal day last Thursday to attend the interview ..."

By goldenrod (505), southampton on May 21, 10 12:01 PM
Plus, "Mr. Fine maintained that both administrators had informed Dr. Boyes of their interest in the job opportunities at East Hampton in March." That gave Southampton plenty of time to negotiate with them, or start looking for new talent.

None of this makes the situation any better, the school is out of both a principal and an assistant principal. I hope Mr. Dyno can step in as Principal and the school can concentrate on finding a new assistant principal. I nominate Junie Wingfield.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on May 21, 10 12:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Junie would be a terrific choice at any position with the school district. He's an asset that's for sure!!! Great suggestion.
By hrdygrljr (10), Hampton Bays on May 24, 10 8:25 PM
2 members liked this comment
The whole thing was handled horribly and shouldnt have clouded the end of the year. Sorry if Boyes was sour grapes but he should have thought about the kids first and let the year playout. After gradualtion he could have had a fit and it would have been over by the fall start. The whole thing is relly bad management form.....
By North Sea Citizen (508), North Sea on May 21, 10 2:38 PM
2 members liked this comment
Superintendent Boyers has a hissy fit and the taxpayers wind up paying for it. The Southampton schools have too many administrators. They must be falling over each other. It is just ridiculous !!!!!
By bayview (155), Southampton on May 21, 10 4:32 PM
3 members liked this comment
Too many cooks indeed do spoil the stew...
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on May 22, 10 1:01 AM
And I thought the Tuckahoe School Board was corrupt! Exactly what is wrong with someone interviewing for a job that doesn't start until the next school year? The Superintendent should be ashamed of himself as well as the school board. Their actions are highly unprofessional and most likely illegal.
By Walt (277), Southampton on May 21, 10 9:05 PM
2 members liked this comment
In my time on this Earth, I have found that those who attempt to change things for the better, are more often maligned, than praised.

Going against the "status quo", and being "rewarded", oft do not go hand in hand.

Although, arrogance, and ignorance very often share a manual embrace...
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on May 22, 10 12:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
Oh, is this an SAT question? OK:
The only thing Fine wanted to change was his salary. His self-centered actions demonstrate his arrogant decision to reward himself in an ignorant sense of entitlement and further display his complete lack of commitment to the students he has abandoned. This is nothing but pure greed ....
By SamIAm (35), hampton bays on May 22, 10 8:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
This whole thing seems incredibly STUPID.Whether Fine and Mondini were only interested in higher pay really is not the the problem .They would eventually find higher pay.Suspension w.pay is expensive wasteful and insensitive to those who really count the STUDENTS.Unless thse e being accused of theft, embezzement,or some other crime The Southampton Board really needs to come out with it.
By factfindr (5), southampton on May 22, 10 3:34 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By WM11976 (12), Water Mill on May 22, 10 5:59 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By SamIAm (35), hampton bays on May 23, 10 7:54 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bayview (155), Southampton on May 23, 10 12:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
its a shame but its the truth. my source came right from a teacher in the southampton public school. it happened before the budget vote and was covered up....its obviously still being covered up too. the truth will come out eventually. just wait.
By WM11976 (12), Water Mill on May 23, 10 5:16 PM
What was covered up???
By powerwalker (52), Southampton on May 23, 10 8:58 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Mr. Z (10715), North Sea on May 23, 10 2:41 PM
You're all assuming educators are in this for the love of the job regardless of pay. The salary scale and benefits packages given to admins and teachers are SOOOOO riduclous that greed and entitlement has grounded itself in our schools. So when a teacher, or in this case, administrator, leaves one job for another to pad their salary, its a system that WE as taxpayers let happen. So, unless someone is willing to step up and challenge the unions and change the system, shut your mouth about what ...more
By YEAROUNDER (81), East Hampton on May 24, 10 8:19 AM
These people wanted better-paying jobs. They timed their departure (end of the year) to minimize disruptions. What's wrong with that? Is a school administrator, after joining a school system, required to stay there for life? All of this whining about shirking their responsibility to the students and being "self-centered" is ridiculous. They're professionals who left one job for a better-paying job elsewhere, just like any of us would do if given the opportunity - get over it.
By CoweeDewey (110), East Quogue on May 25, 10 9:22 AM
2 members liked this comment
page, restaurant, christmas, open