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Apr 23, 2019 4:10 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Eastport-South Manor School District Officials Stay Silent About Superintendent's Leave

Eastport-South Manor School District Superintendent Dr. Patrick Brimstein. PRESS FILE
Apr 24, 2019 10:31 AM

Eastport-South Manor School District officials remained quiet this week about the circumstances surrounding the decision last week to place Superintendent Dr. Patrick Brimstein on paid administrative leave.

District administrators, board members and employees all cited confidentiality rules when asked about the decision, leaving the public to speculate as to what transpired.

The only information they said they could legally provide was that the School Board placed Dr. Brimstein on paid leave indefinitely during a special meeting on Monday, April 15, because of a personnel matter.

At a board meeting two days later, Board President Nicholas Vero requested that audience members not ask about Dr. Brimstein’s leave during the public comment period, as there was nothing the board could disclose. Mr. Vero sent a brief memo to staff the day before, informing them of the action without giving a reason.

Linda Wygonik, president of the district’s 375-member teacher’s union, said in an email that the union “stands in support of the [Board of Education’s] decision, as it is in the best interest of our students.”

The board likely will choose an interim superintendent by next week, Mr. Vero said. District schools and the administrative office are closed this week for spring recess and will reopen on Monday, April 29.

In the meantime, Assistant Superintendents Tim Laube and Linda Weiss have been overseeing the district.

This administrative shake-up was just the latest in a history of sudden leadership changes since the district began to form in 1999. Within those 20 years, school boards had appointed 11 superintendents, four of whom were interim superintendents.

The district’s longest-acting superintendent was Mark Nocero, who served between 2007 and 2016. In March of that year, he abruptly retired with a year left on his contract for undisclosed reasons. Two interim superintendents filled the role during the following year, the first serving from March to July 2016, and the second taking over from July until March 2017.

First was Joseph Steimel, the principal of Eastport Elementary School, and second was Peter Scordo, a retired Elwood School District administrator and former superintendent of the Eastport, South Manor and Eastport South Manor Central High School districts before they all merged into the current district in 2003.

It was in March 2017 when the board appointed Dr. Brimstein to begin his superintendent role in May. He was the acting superintendent of the Peru Central School District in upstate New York at the time.

The board brought on Dr. Brimstein, along with Mr. Laube that same year, to remedy the district’s fiscal troubles. Dr. Brimstein became the face of an administration that cut over 70 teaching positions last April, not even a year into his term, to help close a nearly $5 million budget shortfall gap. The district was in a much better position this budget season and did not have to cut any jobs.

Dr. Brimstein could not be reached for comment.

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