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Search On For New Bay Elementary Principal

Parents express concerns about upcoming school year.

A search is on for a new principal at to replace the recently Peter Nicolino, Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael Locantore said at a community meeting with parents at the school on Tuesday.

An interim principal is being sought out, with hope that a full-time replacement will be found by the Fall, Locantore said.

Approximately 40 people attended the meeting, which lasted more than two hours. Several teachers also showed up prior to the meeting but were politely asked to leave so that it could be a parent-friendly forum. Locantore said that a separate meeting will be held with the teachers at a later date.

Bay Elementary School PTA President Denise Guarino was initially contacted by Locantore to discuss the concerns of the school community.

“[Locantore] was very receptive to the fact that we are very unhappy. It’s a very cold place,” Guarino said.

Carrie Venezia has a 10-year-old daughter who will be attending fifth grade and a seven-year-old son headed to second grade at the school this fall.

“I think [his termination] is a loss for the community and not just for Bay parents-the whole community," Venezia said of Nicolino, whose employment with the district was terminated on July 5 by a 5-2 school board vote just two weeks after being granted tenure.

"[Dr. Nicolino] really responded to any issue regarding our community," Venezia added. "Whether it was a student in the school or a problem with something that was happening outside the building, he was always there to help in any way."

School officials have not discussed the reasons for Nicolino's departure, citing confidentiality issues with it comes to personnel matters.

Laura Williamson has a child who recently moved up to South Ocean Middle School and another who started this past school year as a kindergartner at Bay Elementary.

“I was devastated when they took the tenure off the table and let him go,” Williamson said. She described Nicolino as a good role model that knew the names of all the children and was respectful to talk to.

Guarino said that several of the parents felt that the upcoming school year may be uncomfortable following the recent events.

“It’s not a good atmosphere coming back in September," Guarino said. "The only thing that they were comfortable with is Dr. Nicolino because he knew every parent and he knew all their situations."

Locantore told the parents in attendance that he would do everything he can to make sure that things would work out for the children and for the community.

“I was made aware that there was, we’ll use the word, dissension in the building," Locantore said. "Since it was brought to my attention, the meeting that I am having with you [the parents], I will be having with the teachers and speaking extremely candid about issues here.

"I will hear what they have to say," he added, "but it’s time to heal."

Update 7/14/11 9:43 a.m.: Superintendent Michael Locantore called Patch to clarify that the district is looking to hire a new principal by August, not November as previously reported by Patch.

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