Riverhead Schools Appoint Interim Superintendent Following Augustine Tornatore’s Resignation

Pulaski Street School (Taylor K. Vecsey/File)

Following the resignation of former superintendent Augustine Tornatore, the Riverhead School District has appointed Cheryl Pedisich as its interim superintendent.

Marianne Cartisano was also appointed acting assistant superintendent of business, replacing Rodney Asse. Cartisano had previously been superintendent of Miller Place schools, retiring in 2022.

Tornatore had requested a leave of absence on Oct. 6, and his formal resignation was accepted on Oct. 24. The district has agreed to pay out his 2023-24 salary which amounts to $182,331, plus his 10 vacation days and five sick days, as well as a $10,000 deposit into Tornatore’s 403(b) account.

The district has not commented on why Tornatore resigned, and it is not clear at this time why Asse is no longer with the district. However, Tornatore’s resignation comes following multiple claims of alleged racist harassment, swastikas being found at Riverhead schools, and general turmoil on the district’s administrative side.

Pedisich formerly served as superintendent at the Three Village School District, but retired in 2022. In New York State, retired educators are entitled to accept interim appointments that can be renewed annually. Pedisich has been Riverhead’s interim director of special education since last year.

“We are thrilled that these two extraordinary educators and administrators are joining our District,” Riverhead Board of Education President Colin Palmer said in a news release. “These two individuals bring a wealth of experience in school leadership and financial acumen to our District. They will provide us with a level of stability we need to steer our District in a direction that will effectively support the educational programming and services we offer our students and the Riverhead community. We are confident they will be able to bring a sense of collaboration and focus to the operations of our District that will have positive impacts on the effective functioning of our central administration offices as well as forge a sense of unity Districtwide that will benefit the education and well-being of our students and staff.”

Cartisano officially stepped into the position on Oct. 25, while Pedisich began on Oct. 30.