School District Announces New Acting Superintendent

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Dr. Gaurav Passi, will serve as the acting superintendent for the Manhasset School District. (Contributed photo)

The Manhasset Board of Education announced during a recent board of education meeting that Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Gaurav Passi, will serve as the acting superintendent for the Manhasset School District.

Superintendent Vincent Butera is on leave following allegations made against him by a former Shelter Rock Elementary School teacher. An independent counsel conducted an investigation into the complaint and found Butera in violation of the district’s sexual harassment policy in fall of 2020. Butera addressed the allegations during a May 6 board meeting.

“Despite my intent, the independent counsel did find that my attention was perceived by the complainant as unwelcome and therefore a violation of district policy,” Butera said during the meeting. “My actions and behavior have always been intended to mirror the values and high standards that so many of us and I hold dear and to convey care and concern and the thought that even one person perceived that differently brings me profound regret and sadness and for that, I have reflected deeply.”

Shortly after, the board announced that Butera would be placed on leave, effective Thursday, May 13.

The board of education held a short meeting on May 28 during which they discussed personnel changes within the district.

“We are having a short meeting this morning because we have quite a number of personnel items that are timely and need to be taken care of,” Patricia Aitken, Board of Education President said.

Aitken further explained that the district’s senior leadership team is comprised of three key administrators: Rosemary Johnson Deputy Superintendent for Business and Operations, Dr. Gaurav Passi Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and Allison Rushforth Executive Director For District Special Education Programs and People-Personnel Services.
Aitken stated that these three individuals will continue their existing areas of responsibility, while also working in collaboration and partnership in sharing the responsibilities of the superintendent. She explained that Passi’s current role in the district as well as his certification as a school district administrator made him a proper fit for the position.

“Because the role of acting superintendent does bring with it certain statutory responsibilities, which require a school district administrator certification, and those areas generally fall under Dr. Passi’s current area of supervision, the board is appointing Dr. Passi to the position of acting superintendent,” Aitken said. “During this interim period all references and district policies and regulations to the superintendent of schools or designee should include the acting superintendent and the Deputy Superintendent for Business and Operations.”

Several weeks ago, the board had appointed Johnson as the acting superintendent. Aitken stated that Johnson will continue in her current role, but did not state the reason for the change in acting superintendents.

“Deputy Superintendent Johnson, reporting directly to the board of education, will continue to provide the executive leadership for day-to-day operations and administration, including the execution of all policies, decisions and orders of the board,” Aitken said during the meeting. “Ms. Johnson has rendered exemplary service in key leadership roles during her tenure in the district since 2006, and the board reiterates its utmost confidence in her knowledge, skills, professional capabilities and leadership.”

Dr. Passi joined the Manhasset School District in 2019, filling a vacancy created by the retirement of the former Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Charles Leone.

“Dr. Passi is a proven collaborator and leader,” Butera stated in 2019. “He shares our focus and commitment to providing all students a rich academic program and expansive opportunities, while nurturing each student’s social and emotional well-being. We are pleased to welcome him to Manhasset.”

The board concluded their meeting by thanking the three administrators for “assuming these additional responsibilities during this time.”

“We firmly believe these three individuals working in this collaborative model will provide efficiency and stability during this period, enabling the district’s sole focus to remain on supporting our students, faculty and staff,” Aitken said.

There is no word as to if Butera will return to the district in the fall.

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