Spring 2017 Journal
Fixing Our Schools  
President’s Message 

Earlier this month, my husband couldn’t wait to share a feature article in the Sunday New York Times, titled “Want to Fix Schools?  Go to the Principal’s Office.”  Being married to someone who has served as a High School Principal for the last 22 years, he fashions himself an expert on who principals really are, all they really do and why principals are the linchpin to a school’s ability to excel.  
According to my homegrown expert, public awareness of the pivotal roles we play and appropriate levels of support for school administrators has long fallen short of what it should be.  He pointed out that we are often our own worst enemies --- when given the chance to showcase the work we do, we always seem to shine the spotlight on our students and staff, standing proudly on the sidelines.  On the other hand, when there are contentious issues to be dealt with, we are the ones who step forward into the fray.  My husband sat and smiled proudly as I read; pointing out the need for this story – our story as school leaders -- to come to the fore. 
The article began with a powerful statement of facts:  virtually every public school in the country has someone in charge who’s called the principal. Yet principals have a strangely low profile in the passionate debates about education. The focus instead falls on just about everything else: curriculum (Common Core and standardized tests), school types (traditional versus charter versus private) and teachers (how to mold and keep good ones, how to get rid of bad ones). You hear far more talk about holding teachers accountable than about principals …. but principals can and do make a real difference, every day, in the lives of their students.  Overlooking the principal’s essential role is a mistake, but fortunately, we  are starting to get more of the attention they deserve.  
The article focused on efforts in several states that are paying dividends, connecting these gains back to the role of principals.  In one passage, the author quoted Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s mayor, who said “The national debate is all screwed up . . . Principals create the environment. They create a culture of accountability. They create a sense of community. And none of us, nationally, ever debate principals.”  Emanuel became mayor in 2011 and placed an emphasis on educational outcomes, making principals the focus, “Principals are so important because they offer one of the most effective means to improve teaching. We can’t track 22,000 teachers,” however, Chicago’s chief education officer, said. “We can work with 660 principals.”   
These sentiments are a perfect illustration of ESSAA’s perspective on the dividends that come from investing in principals and administrators.  We believe that while there are outstanding teachers and pockets of excellence in classrooms all over our state and nation, there are no successful schools without strong school leaders.  
Tom Boasberg, Denver’s superintendent, put it this way: “Your ability to attract and keep good teachers and your ability to develop good teachers, in an unbelievably challenging and complex profession, is so dependent on your principals.” Most other knowledge-based professions, he added, pay more attention to grooming leaders than education does. 
The article went on to share personal stories of students whose lives were turned around because of the work of a great principal - through programs, practices and personal connections, these school leaders are making an impact. The author ended on an optimistic note, saying “It’s easy to get demoralized about the state of education… for decades, people have been saying that it is in crisis, and it certainly has enormous problems. Many schools still do… the country has also made real progress. The national high school graduation rate has risen to an all-time high of 83 percent, from 75 percent a decade ago. In elementary and middle school, math and reading scores are higher than a decade ago.” 
Why? Educators have learned a lot over the last couple of decades about what works. Teaching quality matters tremendously. And so do empowered principals, held accountable for their schools’ performance.  
As school leaders we have historically stepped up to the plate and forged ahead, inspiring others to follow a vision for a future that strengthens public education for all children. Let’s reflect on our accomplishments and remain energized about the promise of all that we have yet to achieve.  Together we are leading New York’s schools forward, front and center in the Principal’s Office. 

Carol Conklin-Spillane
ESSAA President


                       Executive Director’s Column

The Pillars of Our Organization
by: Michael A. Starvaggi, Esq., ESSAA Executive Director

ESSAA has a clear vision of our mission, and we want to be sure to communicate that information to our members.  We believe it is essential that each of you know and understand the identity and goals of your organization.

Simply stated, our purpose is to provide our members with the very best services in the areas of Government Advocacy, Legal Services and Professional Development. 

Government Advocacy

ESSAA has a strong and professional presence in Albany.  We participate in monthly stakeholder meetings at NYSED, at which time we discuss issues and advocate for our members directly with the Commissioner of Education.  We are proud to have established a relationship of mutual respect and professionalism in the conduct of these meetings. Our reputation allows us not only to bring the ideas and concerns of the membership directly to NYSED, but to have our voice heard and considered in a meaningful manner.

Our SED/Regents Liaison attends all Board of Regents meetings as well as our stakeholder meetings and provides informed feedback to the membership by summarizing these meetings in timely electronic mailings.

In addition, ESSAA retains a lobbyist in Albany to protect and advance your legislative needs.   Our lobbyist is supported by our own Legislative Liaison whose sole task is to listen to our membership and develop positions to be advocated by the lobbyist with the legislature in Albany.

Legal Services

Legal services have always been one of the cornerstones of our organization.  ESSAA’s attorneys are experts in the areas of public sector labor law and education law who level the playing field in your interactions with your district offices. 

ESSAA’s attorneys have zealously advocated for our members in the legal arena and have won landmark decisions in the process.  The legal services you receive as an ESSAA member include direct access to an attorney with unlimited consultation and full legal representation for labor-related issues such as contract grievances and disciplinary proceedings.  Our attorneys are also available to personally handle contract negotiations for your bargaining unit.

Professional Development

ESSAA is a certified New York State Education Department as a Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) provider.  We offer cost-effective, quality professional development opportunities for our members, presented by leaders in the field.  Our workshops are tailored to meet the unique needs of public school administrators in New York State and the topics we present are developed from feedback from the membership. ESSAA understands what it takes to be an effective leader and works to provide you with the support you need to achieve your goals through quality professional development.

Upon completion of our workshops, each successful participant receives a CTLE certificate indicating participation and completion of the course, which Professional Certificate holders may apply toward the 100 hours required to renew certification every five years.


There are many more advantages to being an ESSAA member, such as our personal benefits, regional networking opportunities and timely communication on matters of interest. However, we see Government Advocacy, Legal Services and Professional Development as the pillars of ESSAA and it is important that each of our members avail him or herself of all that we have to offer.  ESSAA takes pride in being a premiere professional organization and we hope that you, as our members, share in that pride.

A Glance At The Future of ESSAA and New York State Public Education

By Frank J. Santoriello, Editor


As the end of another school year approaches, educators should look to the future in order to keep a reasonable perspective. While education in New York has certainly seen its share of adversity, it has  seen in the past year a ‘silver lining’ in those dark clouds. Gone are the antagonistic days of John King and Meryl Tisch. In their place now sit reasonable educators: Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, and Regents Chancellor, Betty Rosa. Both have brought hope to New York public education by simply listening to the professionals in the trenches. The moratorium on state tests affecting APPR scores and the revision of the Common Core are two of the more salient items which the new NYSED administration implemented.


How does ESSAA fit in to this landscape? Significantly! While we have long had a seat at the under John King, our efforts went basically unheard leaving ESSAA leadership discouraged and frustrated. Now, the issues in our monthly meetings with the Commissioner are listened to in earnest and are taken into consideration. Our leadership now has a real say in which direction New York education should move regarding such concerns as APPR, state tests, Common Core and other mandates. ESSAA members who meet monthly with the Commissioner have nothing but positive reviews on the outcomes.


The  legislative arm is also having an impact on the future of New York State public education. Under the aegis of our lobbyist, Bob Ungar, and our legislative liaison, Anthony Laurino, progress has been made in various ares of concern. For example, Bob and Tony have worked diligently to change the Jarema legislation. Under its current form, Jarema allows tenured teachers who have changed districts to regain tenure in three years instead of four,while tenured administrators in the same circumstances would need the full four year probationary period to regain tenure. This obvious inequitable situation will hopefully be rectified soon due to the efforts of our legislative team.  Bob and his associate, Kristen Curran, have provided wording for a new bill that would extend Jarema to administrators.  See Tony’s Legislative News in this journal for the exact wording of the bill.  Bob and Tony’s efforts have also made gains in growing support of changing legislation to make the 2% tax cap a ‘true’ 2% minimizing the restrictions districts face in procuring adequate funding.


As is shown above, there is a ‘silver lining’ out there, and ESSAA has been at the forefront of attending to it. Much work still needs to be done, but I can assure you that our leadership will do just that! Each ESSAA member can and should contact their regional president with any ideas they may have regarding their concerns.  Your input will help us continue to move forward.


What is a Probationary Appointment and What Rights Attach to One

By Robert E. Saperstein, Esq.

This time of year questions come up about the rights of probationary appointees and tenure in general.  Consequently, it is worthwhile to review the law on these issues.

A probationary appointment is the four year period [three years if the appointment occurred prior to July 1, 2015] during which time the educator serves essentially as an employee at will.  Under New York law, just as an employee can quit a job at any time for any reason, an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except for an illegal reason.  Illegal reasons would include such things as discrimination based upon age, race, gender, religious or handicap and in the public sector, retaliation for engaging in protected activities under the Taylor Law or First Amendment.  Other than these narrow exceptions, a school district can terminate the services of a probationary employee at any time during the probationary appointment upon a total of 60 days’ notice to the employee.  The termination does not have to be on June 30th or the anniversary date of the appointment. 

If the superintendent recommends termination, the probationary employee is given a 30 day notice before the board meeting at which the recommendation is to be considered.  The employee has the right to request the reasons and file a response to those reasons, both of which will be given to the board members for their review.  If the board votes to terminate the employee, it must be effective at least 30 days after the board meeting.

If the recommendation to terminate is made during the term of the probationary period and prior to its expiration, the board must affirmatively vote to terminate the educator.  In contrast, if the superintendent does not recommend tenure at the end of the probationary period, the educator will be dismissed, as the board lacks the authority to grant tenure without the affirmative recommendation of the superintendent.  However, the superintendent can recommend tenure, and the board can vote it down, which also results in termination.  If that happens, the board vote is considered advisory for 30 days during which time the employee can still request the reasons and file a response which will be reviewed by the board, which re-votes on the issue.  If the vote is to deny tenure, it becomes effective 30 days later.

It is important to note that the failure of the district to provide requisite notice does not result in tenure by estoppel, so long as employment is terminated before the end of the probationary period.  The remedy is payment for the number of days less than the required 60 days.

An administrator or teacher is not entitled to appear before the board or request a pre-termination hearing.  A school district can fire a probationary employee for any rational reason.  If the probationary employee thinks the reasons given by the district aren’t true, but they don’t fall within the statutory or constitutional protections cited above, neither a court nor the Commissioner will conduct a hearing to determine the veracity of the reasons.

The only minimal due process protection that applies is that if the reasons given by the district are stigmatizing, a probationary employee may request a name clearing hearing.  If the employee wins the name clearing hearing, the reasons are expunged from the educator’s file, but the termination is unaffected.   

If the collective bargaining agreement requires observations and evaluations to occur within certain timelines and these aren’t followed, a contractual grievance may be filed.  An arbitrator can grant the educator an additional year of employment to allow the contractual procedures to be followed.  An arbitrator does not have the legal authority to award tenure, and the courts have thrown out arbitration awards purporting to do so.  Nor does the extra year result in tenure by estoppel, because the board is not, under those circumstances, voluntarily continuing employment after the end of the probationary period.


If at the conclusion of the probationary period the educator is awarded tenure, he or she now has a vested property right in his/her position.  This is a constitutionally protected interest which can only be taken away with due process of law.  In New York, this means the district must prove the administrator is unfit for the position based upon incompetency or misconduct.  The procedures are set forth in Education Law § 3020-a/b and require a hearing.  The burden of proof is upon the school district other than under APPR if a principal or teacher has received two or three consecutive ratings of ineffective.


Firing a tenured educator is very difficult.  Firing a probationary educator is comparatively easy.   Obviously, the goal is to acquire tenure.  This is why it is critical for probationary administrators to contact their ESSAA counsel as soon as they perceive that they are having problems.  Signs of problems vary but include receiving negative emails or memos, or even a change in verbal treatment at meetings or in one on one situations.

These telltale signs may be the only warning you receive, and it is important not to ignore them. ESSAA counsel have developed many proactive strategies for dealing with these issues, but we cannot do anything if we aren’t contacted at all, or are contacted only after the member receives the notice that they are being recommended for termination or not being recommended for tenure.

Remember, these discussions are confidential, and your Association won’t be notified unless you approve. As it is your livelihood that is at stake, it is always better to spend some time discussing a situation than to ignore it.  After discussion, ESSAA counsel can help you decide if whatever is occurring represents a major, minor or no problem.  If we agree that something is a problem we will assist you and your local Association, with strategies to resolve the issues and maximize the likelihood of your being granted tenure.




By: Joseph E. Lamendola, ESSAA Counsel


The recent actions by the federal government aimed at undocumented immigrants has generated a great deal of consternation, confusion and fear around the country.


In response, the New York State Office of Attorney General (Eric T. Schneiderman) and the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education (MaryEllen Elia) jointly issued a pledge to students, families and communities that schools in New York State would remain safe havens for learning.


In recent weeks, U.S. Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) have sent out inquiries to the OAG concerning school districts’ obligations with respect to obtaining access to student records, and requests to meet and interview undocumented  students.


 It is important to recognize that various laws impose duties on school districts with respect to law enforcement personnel questioning students. Both the New York State Family Court Act (NYFCA) and the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) impose restrictions related to the confidentiality of student records.


If ICE requests an interview with an undocumented student, or is seeking to remove a particular student from school grounds for questioning, the student cannot be removed or questioned without the consent of the student’s parent or guardian (absent exigent circumstances, for example, pursuant to a valid search warrant).  


The U.S. Supreme Court held in the case of Plyer vs. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982) that school districts may not deny students a free public education on the basis of their undocumented or non-citizen status. If an undocumented student cannot be denied a free public education, all the rights and privileges of any other student apply.


The NYSED Counsel’s Opinions have determined that officers of any kind may not remove a child for questioning from a school building while the child is in attendance without permission from the student’s parents. Further, it has been determined that a school particularly does not have custody of pupils for the purpose of authorizing law enforcement officers or other third parties to remove students or interrogate them for any purpose. (See N.Y.S.E.D. Counsel’s Opinions 91 (June17, 1959) and Opinion 148 (February 23, 1965).


Any breach of the duties and obligations imposed on school districts and administrators highlighted above, may result in costly litigation.  Seek the advice of your ESSAA Counsel before you act on a request.


One final note, in response to incidents and reports of harassment, SED is also issuing guidance to schools with regard to the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).  The Commissioner of Education is adamant that school communities are inclusive, and all students are entitled to receive an education without fear of reprisal and that classrooms remain safe havens.



Doctors need it.  Lawyers need it. Electricians need it.

Even Plumbers Need It.
So Do New York Public School Administrators!


By Brad Stuhler,Esq.


Every now and again a member will call and ask my opinion on purchasing professional liability insurance.  For some members having an individual policy offers piece of mind at a very affordable price. However, the reasons these policies can be purchased at affordable premiums is because the protections offered under many of these policies are already provided under state law.


The statutory liability protections provided to educators can be found in Education Law §3811, §3020, §3023, as well as under Public Officers Law §18. Under these statutory provisions teachers/administrators who are acting within the scope of their employment are provided with two things; (i) legal representation and (ii) indemnification:

(i)                   Legal representation- the district must provide the administrator with legal representation in defense of the claim  

(ii)                 Indemnification- the district is required to pay for any loss or damages that may be awarded against the educator as a result of the lawsuit.  

Therefore, as administrators you are provided full liability coverage (i.e. legal representation and indemnification) at no cost when acting within the scope of your employment. Obviously, the question always becomes what is the definition of “scope of employment”.    


Fortunately, for administrators, the courts have defined “scope of employment” very broadly. In Riviello v. Waldron 47 NY2d 297,302, scope of employment was defined as “whether the act was one while the servant was doing his master’s work, no matter how irregularly, or with what disregard to instructions.” The court went on to state even intentional tort situations have been found to fall within scope of employment.  In Matter of Blood, the court held that “only classroom conduct maliciously motivated or so extreme as to remove itself from any natural connection with occupational duties would constitute an adequate factual basis for a determination…… that the scope of employment had been exceeded.”


Although the courts have provided an extremely broad definition of scope of employment, there are limits.  For instance, in Radvany v. Jones 184 AD2d 349, the court found that the Principal’s intentional harassment, which included placing a dead pigeon in plaintiff's school mailbox (located within defendant's office); vandalizing plaintiff's car on at least two occasions while it was parked in the school parking lot; and directing one school staff member not to drive plaintiff to work had no relation to the proper discharge of his duties or to any legitimate goal of the Board of Education and therefore was outside the scope of his employment.   


On occasion a member will call and say that they’ve heard that they could be found personally liable. I tell the member that they have very strong protections and really can’t; however, the member will then spring the question; “well what if I’m found guilty of harassing, assaulting or discriminating against a staff member, parent, or student, then I can be found personally liable?”  To which, I answer…. “Yes, you could be found personally liable in that instance”.  The member then questions why not purchase liability insurance to cover this scenario. I advise the member that although they certainly can purchase additional liability insurance, when doing so, to carefully read the exclusions section of the policy and look for something along the following;


This policy does not apply to any Claim(s) relating to or arising out of any fraudulent, dishonest, malicious, criminal or intentional wrongful act or omission by an Insured. 


The reason the above language, or similar language, will be present in the policy is because it’s against New York public policy to provide insurance that would cover intentional or criminal misconduct. Simply put, in New York a person cannot get insurance to absolve themselves of harassment, discrimination, assault or any other intentional wrongdoing. This of course makes sense but also should provide little concern to members.  


If, as an educator, you discharge your duties in good faith and those duties are in some way related to your occupational duties to fall within the scope of employment, the protections afforded to you under New York law are vastly superior to the professional liability policies in other professions that come at very hefty premiums.


However, the one thing that all members must remember is that the statutory protections they receive have notification requirements within them. Therefore, it’s imperative that you speak with your assigned ESSAA counsel as soon as you are named and/or served in a lawsuit. Your ESSAA counsel will then assist you in ensuring that your statutory rights are protected and that you are granted representation and indemnification by your school district.


Several ESSAA Districts Garner National Honors


The winter of 2017 was a significant one for several ESSAA districts. The U.S. Department of Education designated Syosset High School and Harborfields High School as Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence. ESSAA extends congratulations to Dr. Giovanni Durante, principal of Syosset H.S. and Tim Russo, principal of Harborfields H.S.


ESSAA districts again received notable recognition in the annual Regeneron Science Talent Search, formerly known as the Intel Science Search. Several member districts had students who were semi-finalists, and two were selected as finalists! The semi-finalists were from:  John F. Kennedy H.S. in the Bellmore-Merrick district - Lorraine Poppe Principal: Commack H.S. - Leslie Boritz, Principal: Half Hollow Hills East H.S. - Dr. Jeffrey Woodbury, Principal: Half Hollow Hills West H.S. - Dr. Michael Catapano, Principal: Ward Melville H.S. in the Three Village district - Dr. Alan Baum, Principal: Great Neck North H.S. - Bernard Kaplan, Principal: Great Neck South H.S. - Susan Elliott, Principal: Locust Valley H.S. - Dr. Kieran McGuire, Principal: Herricks H.S. - Dr. James Ruck, Principal: Wellington C. Mepham H.S. in the Bellmore-Merrick district - Michael Harrington, Principal: Smithtown H.S. East - Dr. Kevin Simmons, Principal: Syosset H.S. - Dr. Giovanni Durante, PrincipalJohn Jay H.S.- Dr. Steven Siciliano, Principal: Mamaroneck H.S.- Elizabeth Clain, Principal: Ossining H.S.- Joshua Mandel, Principal: Pleasantville H.S.- Joseph Palumbo, Principal: Somers H.S., Scarsdale H.S.- Ken Bonamo, Principal: and White Plains H.S.- Ellen Doherty, Principal The finalists were a senior from Dobbs Ferry H.S. John Falino, Principal and a senior from Hendrick Hudson H. S.- James Mackin, Principal. ESSAA extends congratulations to all the students and administrators for these outstanding achievements.


Region 1: CAS

Albert Voorneveld, President

This has been a busy year for CAS with the expansion of our member benefits and our Continuing Teacher Leader Education (CTLE) professional development programs. Earlier in the school year we presented several CTLE programs and built upon their success with our Spring Conference at Hofstra University on March 9th. Over 125 CAS members participated in a practical and sometimes funny four- hour CTLE program at Hofstra University on March 9, 2017, with the nationally renowned Dr. Todd Whitaker entitled “What Great Leaders Do Differently.”  Dr. Whitaker explored a wide variety of instructional and management challenges common to all school leaders and provided easily replicated strategies to take back to work.

We also honored several outstanding CAS members with our 2017 CAS Administrator of the Year Awards and the CAS Lifetime Achievement Award at our winter Delegate Assembly on Thursday, March 16th at the Holiday Inn in Plainview.  Each recipient was nominated by their peers and selected by the award committee for exemplifying the highest qualities of school administrative leadership including achievement, vision, innovation, and collaboration with parents, students, staff and administrators. CAS also recognized Syosset High School and Harborfields High School for being recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence.


Congratulations (l to r): Ronald Gimondo, Principal, John F. Kennedy Elementary School; Thomas J. Desmond, Assistant Principal, Samoset Middle School; Timothy Russo, Principal, Harborfields High School; Lorraine Poppe, Principal, John F. Kennedy High School; Joanne Giordano, Principal, Harborfields Middle School; William King Moss III, Science Chairperson, Lawrence Public Schools; Albert Cousins, Principal, North Shore High School; Dr. Barbara Donnellan, Coordinator of Guidance, Lindenhurst Union Free School District


We also continued our CAS Financial Literacy Program with a workshop on March 23rd, providing over fifty attendees with important retirement planning information. Other upcoming CAS events include our May Delegate Assembly where will recognize our CAS Scholarship winners and our June retirees, and  our Annual CAS Golf Classic that will be held once again at the Baiting Hollow Country Club on July 10th.

While we have been working to expand professional development programs and improve member benefits, our attorneys, Brad Stuhler and Mike Starvaggi, have been working closely with many of our units negotiating new contracts. With the legislature now in session, our CAS lobbyist, Bob Ungar, and CAS Legislative Liaison, Tony Laurino, have been in Albany regularly to make sure that the voices of our members are heard in the legislature.

Please remember that each CAS member has personal and confidential access to our CAS attorneys. If you have any questions about CAS or need any assistance whatsoever, please feel free to call Brad Stuhler, Mike Starvaggi, or me at 631-761-5451. 

For more CAS event information, member benefits, educational news, job opportunities, and useful professional links, please visit us at .


Michael McDermott, President


RASA members continue to provide strong leadership for our member schools as evidenced by the recognition several of our schools received this year as Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence. More recently, nine high schools in the region were recognized as Regeneron Science semi-finalists, with seniors from Dobbs Ferry and Hendrick Hudson High Schools being chosen as finalists. (Please see the separate recognition elsewhere in this Journal.)  We salute the administrators of those schools, as they represent the highest levels of administrative skill and leadership.

RASA has embarked upon a unique professional development opportunity for its members, offering financial support of $2,500 to a qualifying two-person team from any RASA unit. The stipend covers expenses for the administrators to attend a national conference or convention such as NASSP, ASCD, etc. To date, we have been able to award this stipend to three administrative teams in the region.

RASA will be soliciting nominations for two leadership openings for next year; one for president of RASA and one for treasurer of RASA.  I have indicated to my school district that I will be retiring at the end of this school year, and so, it is time for new leadership of the region. Despite my retirement from administration, I hope to be able to serve ESSAA in some capacity next year.

Michael McDermott

RASA President


  Region 3: Mid-Rock

Joyce Mucci, President


Just when we think we're out of the woods another storm arises. Whether political or physical, the climate is changing rapidly. We, as administrators, are asked to expand our work responsibilities. Many of us juggle school buildings, after school programs, after school meetings, summer school, parents, central administration, NYSED, and of course our own families. We are asked many times to go above and beyond, but very rarely are we asked to show support for our colleagues. Working with ESSAA, I have had the opportunity to visit websites, programs, and school buildings of our colleagues, which many of you have not had the same opportunity. In this March newsletter I would like you to stop for a minute and take a look at what our colleagues in other districts and regions are doing.  I would encourage you to take a look at websites, newsletters of our colleagues and reach out.  Did you know that East Ramapo Spring Valley HS is celebrating with a Multi-cultural Day;  Onteora Central School District had a junior named Scholar All State First Team by the New York State High School Football Coaches Association; Middletown Central School District supports an initiative entitled:’ I am Middletown’ and Middletown HS will be hosting a Career Day; Pearl River Middle School is hosting a Spring Parent Night;  These are but a few of the programs and initiatives being developed and supported by our colleagues across ESSAA Region 3 MidRock. 

The talk of many units across the region pertains to the possibility of a Constitutional Convention. This November, New Yorkers will be voting on having one or not. Please communicate and strategize the implications around this movement and how it could potentially impact our pensions and survival of unions as we know it. We need to be proactive and alert!


                                                            REGION 5: CAPSA

John Rickert, President


In Region 5, our ESSAA leadership continues to serve the needs of our member school districts.  We have been actively gathering feedback as to what the most pressing needs are at the state level.  Our Region is well represented with the Commissioner of Education's Stakeholder group, along with our ESSAA team.  We meet on a monthly basis, and we take an active role in shaping the agenda.  If there are specific items that you would like to see advanced, please feel free to contact me.


With the climate in national politics being against public education and in support of privatization and vouchers, along with the annual scrutiny that comes with the school budget season, it is more important than ever that your work as an educational leader is supported.  The leadership team at ESSAA stands by your commitment as a school leader in public education.  We believe in highlighting your work with your students and your respective school districts.  Please send me any and all notes of good news so that we can promote it in our ESSAA journals, our Twitter Page and at our Regional meetings and statewide meetings.  Educational leaders tend to be modest. However, we need to spread the good word to promote and support each other.

For those of you in districts with collective bargaining agreements that are set to expire, please remember to reach out to me and Mike Starvaggi.  Please utilize our collective experiences in the framing of your proposals and in the assistance of your research.  Mike is well-versed in the most recent settlements in the area and statewide.  Make sure that you do your homework prior to sitting down with your district representatives.  It is always better to come into the meetings with your data and rationale to defend your proposals.  You deserve a settlement that reflects your work! 

Finally, we look forward to seeing everyone at the ESSAA state meeting in June where we will be honoring all of the Administrators of the Year form each Region.  This is a very inspiring event and a celebration of our colleagues' exemplary work.  We will be at West Point on Friday, June 8th and Saturday morning, June 9th.  I would encourage everyone to attend this celebration.  You will be moved by the work of our colleagues.  

The end of the school year is a busy time.  We remain committed to our school

leaders in providing the best representation services and collegial support.  If you have any questions or need any information, please call or email me directly.


All My Best,


John W. Rickert

Region 5 President   


Region 6: STSAA

Rick Kimble, President



As we all anxiously await the arrival of spring, it is clear that we are still very much in the heart of the school year.  Last weeks winter blast resulted in the state of NY being under a state of emergency because of the snowfall and impending weather.  One could also conclude that we have been under a state of emergency within the educational system for far longer.  Many believe that the word  out of Albany relative to the budget process and impact on districts will once again be quite difficult.  Districts will be faced with another season of tough decisions.  Those most effected in the end… our students.  Yet, all of the dedicated administrators across the state continue to work as hard as ever for our students in spite of the extremely challenging hurdles we face on a daily basis.  I,  like many other NY administrators,  have children in schools run by so many dedicated individuals, and I cannot thank them enough for all that they do in spite of the lack of support we continue to get from our elected leaders.

In an effort to support our members, Region 6 has been soliciting feedback from its members throughout the winter.  The feedback we are seeking is on what ESSAA is doing, has done, and could do to better to serve our members.  This survey was sent to Unit Presidents in Region 6 and asked to be distributed to each member within their respective units.  If you have not had a chance to provide feedback, please consider doing so.  If you have, I thank you for helping us grow and better meet your needs. 

You may also recall that this time of year is the time where we ask you to consider nominating a fellow colleague for administrator of the year.  This is an annual award that is given to an administrator in each region who has been nominated by their peers for going above and beyond.  I ask that you consider taking the time to nominate a deserving colleague for this honor.

I wish you the very best this spring for doing the amazing work that each of us do on a regular basis despite the incredible challenges we face.


Region 8: CNYSAA

Grenardo L. Avellino, President

The truth-o-meter is changing and must be recalibrated! Outside of school the world is changing fast and furiously. Regardless of what media outlet you read, truth and fact versus fiction is challenging credibility all around us. Yes, I am referring to the world of politics without mentioning any political names. Enough said!

Physics teaches us that “Time” is the constant, but how we perceive it varies. We measure down to tenths of a second at the end of a basketball game, while baseball measures time by innings. In school this time of the year, time is ticking quickly as we near the end of the academic calendar – we are running out of class time. Summer time seems to slow down with more sun and fun outside of the school day. We must not forget what we can control and that is definitely not the politics of Trump or DeVos. 

What can a school administrator control within the confines of time? You shape the vision of academic success for all students. You create a climate conducive to learning. You cultivate leadership in others. You manage people, data, processes and protocol. Clearly you are in control regardless of politics. This time of the year can be dark and morale tends to dip in March and April then Spring brings new growth and changes in attitudes and latitudes for many. Stay away from letting the “Trump truth-o-meter” affect what you do as an excellent educator and keep in mind the many students who need your leadership and guidance!

CNYSAA is committed to self-reflection and constructive feedback. We appreciate the survey responses that clearly call for a newsletter creation and more timely information. If you still would like to give us your feedback please do so at this link: CNYSSA Link for Survey - Click Here

Be on the lookout for a newsletter that will be responsive to your needs and the trial of some online “go-to” meetings that will bring topics of choice. Have a great Spring and finish the school year strong with the smiling faces of your children appreciating what we all do! William Butler Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of the fire”. Education is the great equalizer. Don’t forget Joe Lamendola is here for all of us and do not ever hesitate to call him directly at 315-474-1234 or his web site:

                                                                                     In education,

                Grenardo L Avellino

Region 10: WNYAA

Brian Farrell, President


March is still acting like a lion in Western New York!  We were hit with a wind storm the week of March 6th, followed by a snow storm the following.  In all we missed four days of school here at Starpoint and are now dealing with rain. 


I am pleased to report Region 10 held its first Family Fun Day on January 21st which included an open skate at Lockport’s Cornerstone Arena, followed by refreshments at a local establishment.  We appreciate all who attended as “fun” was certainly an appropriate title.

Spring will definitely be a time for WNYAA rebirth as we have several events planned.  I will again be meeting with our local unit presidents and officers to discuss regional collegiality to establish goals for the 2017-18 school year.  Our focus will be on assessing local needs, promoting professional development, social engagements, and recruitment.


In regard to recruitment, I am pleased to recognize the tireless efforts of former WNYAA President and current ESSAA representative, Dr. Ryan Scheonfeld, who continues to be a valuable advocate for us.  Ryan and I, along with Mrs. Anedda Trautman from O/N BOCES recently met with other local administrators about joining our group. 


Finally, Dr. Scheonfeld and I will be attending one of the focus group meetings pertaining to NYSED’s Principal Preparation Project on March 24th.  Information gathered will be shared with all.

All the best,

Brian P. Farrell


 Legislative News/PAC

By Anthony Laurino, Legislative Liaison


Although March Madness refers to basketball, it is also applied to Albany when the budget talks begin in earnest.  The Assembly’s preliminary education bill increases education aid by 1.8 billion over 2016-17, and the Senate increase is 1.2 billion over 2016-17.  During the next few weeks the trading will begin.  There is little doubt we will have a budget by April 1st.

Our efforts in Albany have focused on a change regarding principals, administrators, and supervisors who have tenure in one district and move to another district.  Previous legislation applied to teachers transferring and serving a three year probation instead of four years.  Principals, administrators, and supervisors are not named in the Legislation, therefore, SED ruled they were not subject to the same right.

Bob Ungar and his associate Kristen Curran have produced an addition to the present legislation.  At this time a few legislators are reviewing it for possible legal changes.  We hope to have Assembly and Senate sponsors in the near future.  The additional wording is below in bold type.

ii.  Principals, administrators, supervisors and all other members of the supervision staff of school districts, including common school districts and/or school districts employing fewer than eight teachers, other than city school districts, who are appointed on or after July first, two thousand fifteen, shall be appointed by the board of education, or the trustees of a common school district, upon the recommendation of the superintendent of schools for a probationary period of four years; provided however that in the case of a principal, administrators, supervisor, or other member of the supervising staff who has been appointed on tenure in another school district within the state, the school district where currently employed, or a board of cooperative educational services, and who was not dismissed form such district or board as a result of charges brought pursuant to subdivision one of section three thousand twenty-a of section three thousand twenty-b of this article, the probationary period shall not exceed three years.  The service of a person appointed to any of such positions may be discontinued at any time during the probationary period on the recommendation of the superintendent of schools, by a majority vote of the board of education or the trustees of a common school district.

§2.  This act shall take effect immediately.

When we have bill numbers we will request our members and friends to call their legislators in support our new legislation.

Senator Kathleen Marchione from the Saratoga region is sponsoring a bill that would set the tax cap at 2%.  It would eliminate the “whichever is less” section of the present legislation.  Some of the legislators we spoke with are in agreement with Senator Marchione.  We will continue to meet with legislators to garner support for this legislation.

Anthony C. Laurino

Legislative Liaison




ESSAA Officers

Carol Conklin-Spillane

Michael Starvaggi, Esq. 
Executive Director

Albert (Skip) Voorneveld
Executive Vice President

Michael McDermott
Vice President

Joyce Mucci
845 624 5567
Vice President

John W. Rickert
Vice President

Richard Kimble
607-936-3788 x2807
Vice President

Greg Avellino
Vice President

Brian Farrell
Vice President

Thomas Vasiloff

Steve Boynton

Frank Santoriello
Director of Communications
Editor, The Journal

ESSAA Attorneys

Joseph Lamendola, Esq.

Robert Saperstein, Esq.

Michael A. Starvaggi, Esq.

Brad Stuhler, Esq.

Robert Ungar, Esq.
Legislative Counsel

Anthony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


ESSAA Adminstrative Assistant
Lucia Dorsey 415-308-7709

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