BY SAMUELE PETRUCCELLI AND ROSE WELDON
The Manhasset Board of Education has appointed administrator Gaurav Passi to serve as acting superintendent effective immediately while Superintendent Vincent Butera is on leave.
The move was made at a brief Friday morning meeting addressing personnel changes.
Passi’s appointment follows revelations that Butera had been accused of sexual harassment by a former teacher at Shelter Rock Elementary School, who cited frequent classroom visits and two unwelcome hugs from the superintendent in a complaint made last fall. An investigation into the matter found that Butera violated district policy by making the teacher uncomfortable.
Shortly after that, the board announced that Butera would go on leave, though it is unclear whether the action was voluntary or mandated.
A resolution to accept Butera’s leave, effective May 13, was also listed on the agenda of the board’s Friday meeting. It was not specified whether Butera will return in the fall.
Passi came to Manhasset in 2019 and has served as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the last two school years. In a release that year announcing his appointment, Butera praised the administrator.
“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,” Butera said at the time. “We are pleased to welcome him to Manhasset.”
School board President Patricia Aitken said at the Friday meeting that Passi’s possession of a school district administrator certification, as well as his current role, played a role in the appointment.
“Because the role of acting superintendent brings with it certain statutory responsibilities which require a school district administrator certification, and which fall under Dr. Passi’s current areas of supervision, the board is appointing Dr. Passi to the position of acting superintendent,” Aitken said.
The Board of Education said in an email two weeks ago that Rosemary Johnson, deputy superintendent for business and operations records access officer for the district, would be appointed acting superintendent. Aitken said at the meeting that Johnson would continue in her current role, but gave no explicit reason for the prior statement.
“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. “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.”
Aitken’s comments were sent to district parents in an email, and sent to Blank Slate Media as a response to a request for comment.