Members of the Manhasset community are calling for the resignation of their school district’s superintendent after an independent investigation found that he violated the district’s sexual harassment policy.
Dr. Vincent Butera, Superintendent of Manhasset School District, is the subject of several complaints of sexual harassment made by a female teacher who no longer works in the district, according to a Manhasset Press article that was published on Wednesday.
The teacher sent a letter in September 2020 to the Manhasset Board of Education, which subsequently sought independent counsel to investigate the allegations. The counsel found that Butera violated the sexual harassment policy and offered the Board of Education recommendations for moving forward, said Pat Aitken, president of the board, during the board public meeting on Thursday.
“Appropriate steps were taken consistent with the recommendations of the independent counsel,” Aitken said.
“I can assure you that we took the allegations incredibly seriously and spent an enormous amount of time discussing the different paths we could take,” Christine Monterosso, vice president of the board, added. “You may disagree with the one that we took, but our only goal was to do what we believed to be the right thing.”
A teacher, several mothers, and a student spoke out against the board’s decision to stand by Butera during the public comment portion of the meeting, saying it sends the wrong message to students and makes female staff and students feel unsafe.
“Why has he not been terminated?” asked Stacey Kelley, a parent. “Manhasset cannot be a community that gives a nod and a wink to sexual harassment, and Dr. Butera must resign for the good of the community. And if he won’t, then the board must act to terminate him.”
Butera addressed the allegations during the meeting, claiming that his intent was misconstrued by the female complainant.
“Despite my intent, the independent counsel did find that my intention was perceived by the complainant as unwelcome and therefore a violation of district policy,” he said. “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.”
On Friday, teachers and students wore black in protest, and high school students staged a walk out in the afternoon.