Passi appointed superintendent of Manhasset School District

Passi appointed superintendent of Manhasset School District
Manhasset School District's Acting Superintendent Gaurav Passi was appointed to superintendent on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Manhasset Public Schools)

The Manhasset Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to appoint Gaurav Passi as superintendent on Thursday night.

Passi, who was appointed acting superintendent in May following Superintendent Vincent Butera’s leave of absence following a sexual harassment probe that concluded he violated district policy, will officially assume his new role on July 11.

“I am extremely honored to be named Manhasset’s next superintendent of schools,” Passi said. “I’m incredibly proud to work amongst a talented and dedicated faculty, staff, and administrative team in service to our students and our school community. Manhasset is an incredibly special place, where our students are first in our hearts and minds.”

“The board is very grateful that Dr. Passi has accepted this position and we look forward to continuing to work with him to support our wonderful students, faculty, staff, and administration,” Board of Education President PAt Aitken said. “We have no doubt that Dr. Passi will lead our District in a way that will make us all proud.”

Passi came to Manhasset in 2019 and has served as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction prior to his appointment as acting superintendent.

According to the agreement, Passi will have a four-year term as superintendent, expiring on July 10, 2025.

Passi will also have a $275,000 annual salary from July 10 to June 30, 2023, according to the agreement. His salary in the following years will be determined by the board based on his performance, but will not be any less than $275,000.

On Monday, the board unanimously approved a separation agreement with Butera during a special meeting.

Butera, who has been on paid administrative leave since May 2021 following an investigation into sexual harassment allegations, will remain on leave until his resignation from the school district becomes effective on July 11.

Butera will also receive the full remainder of his annual pay, $286,844, until his contract expires on June 30, 2023, according to the agreement.

Butera’s benefits will not be paid for by the district after July, according to the agreement.

Butera, in a statement through spokesperson Jamie Moss of newsPros, reflected on his experience serving the school district and said he was grateful for the support he received from community stakeholders including various educators and district officials at board meetings.

“My years with Manhasset were fulfilling, and I am leaving the District proud of the accomplishments we achieved together,” the statement read. “I am so grateful for the outpouring of support from so many in the community over these past unfortunate months.  You will never know how much your kindness and support meant during this difficult time for me and for my family.”

In September 2020, a Shelter Rock Elementary School teacher filed a complaint alleging that Butera made her feel uncomfortable after hugging her twice in school and frequently visiting her classroom to “just stand in the back and stare,” according to NBC News. Both incidents were described as “creepy.”

After that filing, the district hired the law office of Shaw, Perelson, May & Lambert to investigate the allegations, according to reports.

Two months later, the firm found that since Butera’s actions were perceived as unwelcome by the teacher, they were against district policy.

Blank Slate Media tried to obtain a document outlining the law firm’s findings through a public-records request in May, but Rosemary Johnson, deputy superintendent for business and operations, declined to release it, citing the district’s attorney-client privilege and saying the record’s disclosure would “result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

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