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Jun 16, 2010 11:46 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe School District seeks stability in extending superintendent's contract

Jun 16, 2010 11:46 AM

The Tuckahoe School Board is working to convince state education officials that the school district’s interim superintendent-principal, Brian McCarthy, has tamed the district’s recent turbulence so effectively that he should be allowed to stay another year.

According to the New York State Education Department, a school district must obtain a waiver for adminstrators if they are already retired from public employment in the state, under age 65 and would earn more than $30,000 from public employment with the state during the calendar year in question. Mr. McCarthy, a retired school administrator who was brought in to manage Tuckahoe last year, meets all three of these standards.

“The process ensures that a retiree—already collecting a public pension—may be selected only where a certified and qualified non-retired person cannot be found to fill the position,” explained Jonathan Burman, an education department spokesperson, who added that such circumstances are not unusual.

In a letter written earlier this month by the board’s attorney, Kevin Seaman, to the district superintendent of the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Ed Zero, Tuckahoe is described as being in a state of some upheaval and Mr. McCarthy is the much-needed stabilizer.

“The strife and dislocation that arose both within the school district community and the community at large could not have been anticipated when the six-month waiver was sought (and approved),” the memo states. Mr. McCarthy’s initial waiver was for the first six months of 2010. “It is clear that there has been a six-month period of upset within the Tuckahoe community which has been greatly stabilized through the efforts of Interim Superintendent Brian McCarthy,” it goes on to say.

Mr. Zero will scrutinize the request before it heads to the state for consideration.

“In the face of the fairly abrupt replacement of the superintendent last year, there is still a need for further time for that stability to be institutionalized,” Mr. Seaman said in an earlier interview. The campaign by members of the community seeking a referendum on a proposal to transform Tuckahoe from a “common” to a “union free” district, which could result in the expansion of the three-member school board, and the death of eighth-grade math teacher Marc Nardin only added to the tumult, Mr. Seaman said. The petition for the referendum is being considered by the state’s commissioner of education.

Other reasons Tuckahoe is citing in its application for the waiver to keep Mr. McCarthy on are the fact that he has made significant changes to the district’s operations, including tweaking the master schedule to increase instructional time and the idea that an extension of Mr. McCarthy’s contract would ease the way for a permanent superintendent to eventually take the reins.

The three-member School Board announced last month that it was extending Mr. McCarthy’s contract—originally set to expire at end of this school year on June 30—through June 30, 2011. A statement read by Board Chairwoman Sharon Grindle that night praised the administrator’s leadership and stated that he has “uncovered a number of areas of concern, identified areas that need improvement and begun to take the necessary steps to remedy many of these issues.”

Ms. Grindle said as long as extending Mr. McCarthy’s contract was an option, the district should pursue it so he could continue to effect positive change. Board member Robert Grisnik deferred questions to Ms. Grindle, The board’s third member, Susan Riccardi, whose term ends at the end of this school year, did not return calls seeking comment.

A waiver application must be made to the commissioner of education within 30 days of the beginning term of employment. Mr. McCarthy’s new contract, for which he will earn an annual salary of $165,000, is set to begin July 1.

In addition, a “thorough and good-faith search for a non-retired individual” to fill the position must not yet have been successful. All certified, non-retired candidates must be considered, the position must have been broadly advertised and a search for a permanent employee must continue during the service of the interim employee, according to the state regulations. Further, those candidates must be shown not to be able to address the current situation at a school as effectively as the current interim employee.

The board had already begun searching for a permanent superintendent this year, and BOCES had narrowed the list of candidates to 10, although Tuckahoe had not yet interviewed anyone. The search is expected to resume next school year.

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What a crock. These board members all need to resign! Ms. Gridle can't find a qualfied superintendent? When did Tuckahoe school become Harvard? Maybe an objective superintendent won't kiss Ms. Gridles behind!
By Walt (285), Southampton on Jun 17, 10 7:51 PM
“The strife and dislocation that arose both within the school district community and the community at large could not have been anticipated when the six-month waiver was sought (and approved),” Are you kidding me? The "strife and dislocation" were well known beforehand, Mr. Seaman, and to attempt to say otherwise is disingenuous at best.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jun 24, 10 11:42 AM
Ms. Grindle single-handedly (with the aid of Riccardi) destroyed the very stability she seeks to restore. i am ready to move on from this issue, as are so many others, as soon as Grindle is gone. Nothing would do more to restore "stability" than her resignation.
By setyoufree (69), Sag Harbor on Jun 24, 10 11:49 AM
Another thing, the petition for a UFSD was a RESULT of the tumult caused by Grindle and Riccardi, and not the other way around. Funny how even on her way out Riccardi cannot be counted on to make an intelligent, reasoned comment on something that is the direct result of her own actions. Mr. Seaman, you talk of the "abrupt replacement" of the superintendent - don't you mean the abrupt forced resignation? I thought you were meant to represent the school, not Ms. Grindle
By setyoufree (69), Sag Harbor on Jun 24, 10 11:59 AM

The same people stuck in a perptual bellyaching time warp in action! There is a new Board. Time to move on and cooperatively work to improve Tuckahoe's shameful state test scores for so many years.

Let's keep our eye on the ball - striving for excellent education for our kids, not petty, laughable small town politics for people with too much time on their hands!
By Obbservant (443), southampton on Jun 26, 10 1:37 AM
Observant, I believe your comments are out of order. Every time someone brings up an issue of importance to them, there are ten or 15 waiting in the wings to tell them to "stop bellyaching"

Mr. Seaman's responses are a clear misrepresentation of what actually happened.

Your comments are also an unfortunate misrepresentation of the truth. Tuckahoe's state test scores are far from "shameful". What is to be gained by saying so? I would assert that you are perpetuating the very ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jun 26, 10 9:16 AM
So, Observant, everyone who posts here has too much time on their hands excluding you, of course. Stop bellyaching about other people's bellyaching and you'll be a much less miserable soul. By the way, "shameful"? Please.
By setyoufree (69), Sag Harbor on Jun 26, 10 9:24 AM
I love people like observant (who certainly isn't so). "You don't like the school board? Shut up. Who cares." "You don't like how they've destroyed the fabric of our school? So what. Shut up." "You're concerned about how their actions have affected your child? Shut up. Who cares!"

But as soon as they hear something they don't like, they scream louder and longer than anyone else. Just because people like observant don't care about anything beyond their front doors does not mean ...more
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 26, 10 10:07 PM