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Commack School District

Huntington High School. File Photo

School districts in Huntington canvassed ballots June 16 for hours before reporting results.

Elwood Union Free School District

The district passed its 2020-21 budget, 2,921 to 1,064. Its budget is set at $64,443,174, a 2.73 percent increase from last year’s figure. The district will see a tax levy increase of 2.89 percent, which is below its allowable tax levy cap of 7.22 percent.

The proposed increase of 2.89 percent is less than what is needed to fully cover the increase to capital debt, so as a result the district has planned targeted reductions. Those will include elimination of one full-time administrative position, reduction in staffing due to attrition, reduction to athletics for materials and supplies, reduction to certain co-curricular activities with minimal student enrollment and reduction in security hours to eliminate redundancy in buildings.

Voters elected two candidates to the board of education. Newcomer Sara Siddiqui secured the most votes of 2,489 and will be elected to fill the balance of an unexpired term from June 9, 2020, through June 30, 2020, to be followed by a full three-year term. Challenger Thomas Scarola, who received the second highest number of votes with 2,281, will serve a full three-year term beginning in July. Incumbent Becky Marcus failed to secure reelection with 1,775, as did George Neofitos with 755 votes.

Northport-East Northport Union Free School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget 5,241 to 1,545. Its budget is set at $172,752,759, a $1.6 million increase from last year’s total. The budget package supports  K-12 instructional programs, funds the purchase of 1,500 Chromebooks to complete the final phase of the 1:1 computing initiative so that all students K-12 have their own device, preserves the district’s art, music and athletic programs, maintains class sizes within district guidelines, preserves staffing and programming to support the social-emotional needs of students and supports the district’s professional development initiatives for staff.

In the event of future foundation aid reductions, the district will look to defer a number of expenditures. The total would come out to over $1.8 million. In a worst-case scenario, the district could eliminate late bus runs, eliminate/reduce school trips, reduce athletic opportunities (games, teams), and reduce full-time equivalent employee hours, among other things.

Board president David Badanes secured reelection with 5,119 votes. Incumbent Donna McNaughton was reelected with 4,463 votes. Challenger Victoria Bento fell short in her bid with 2,762 votes.

Harborfields Central School District

The 2020-21 budget passed by an overwhelming 3,609 to 1,472. Its total budget figure will be $88,843,177. The district will see a tax levy increase of 2.80 percent. The tax levy amount is $68,465,006 compared to last year’s amount of $66,600,280. State aid is down from $16,466,214 to $14,526,584, which is an over $1.9 million decrease.

Incumbents Christopher Kelly and David Steinberg were reelected to the board. Kelly received 3,477 votes, while Steinberg garnered 2,855 votes. Challenger Freda Manuel came up short with 2,174 votes.

Cold Spring Harbor Central School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget 944 to 373. Its budget is set at $71,092,749, which is an $817,932 increase from its 2019-20 figure. The district’s tax levy amount will be $66,819,125. The overall budget is about $1 million under the tax levy limit.

District officials are expecting further aid reductions from the state. However, the current budget maintains all programs. The district will continue its Chromebook initiative for all students at the middle and high school, extensive professional development for teachers, continue the partnership with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and DNA Learning Center, fund arts programming, including a partnership with the Huntington Arts Council and Lincoln Center Education.

In addition, the budget will facilitate the approval for new three-year transportation contracts, appropriates $900,000 in capital construction funds for the following projects: Field House locker room reconstruction, grounds storage building construction at the middle and high school, performing arts center house lighting replacement.

Proposition 2 was passed by voters, 911 to 451. It would transfer an amount not to exceed $750,000 from the district’s unassigned fund balance to replace existing faucets and the upper synthetic turf field at Cold Spring Harbor Jr./Sr. High School.

Proposition 3 was also passed by voters, 916 to 448. It will authorize the creation of a capital reserve with a limit of $15,000,000 in deposits plus applicable interest over a 15-year term to complete future capital construction projects.

Four candidates ran for three seats with three-year terms, beginning July 1, 2020. Incumbents Janice Elkin and Mark Freidberg secured reelection while challenger Tara Belfi was elected to her first term.

Huntington Union Free School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget, 3,696 to 1249. Its budget is set at $135,938,167 with a 1.77 percent increase. Its tax levy amount comes out to $112,350,000.

Its second proposition also passed 3,976 to 924. It will approve the release of monies for state-approved projects that will total over $3.6 million. Southdown Primary School: $340,000 would be used for rooftop solar panels; Huntington High School: Partial roof replacement costing $1 million; Finley Middle School: Science/prep rooms reconstruction and boiler replacements would cost $2 million; and Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School: New auditorium seating and flooring would cost $300,000. Costs of repairs of Finley Middle School lockers will also be included in the total.

Residents elected two individuals to the BOE to a three-year term commencing July 1, 2020, and expiring June 30, 2023. Longtime trustee member Xavier Palacios secured reelection with 2,494 votes, challenger Kelly Donovan was elected to her first term with 3,061 votes. Board president Jennifer Hebert decided to not run for reelection this year.

Commack School District

Commack School District’s 2020-21 budget of $199,759,525 was approved by residents, 5,332 to 2,128.

Trustee Susan Hermer retained her seat with 3,401 votes. Her challenger Mike Weisberg garnered 3,021. Incumbent William Hender ran unopposed and received 5,157 votes.

The 2020-2021 school budget has a tax cap levy increase of 1.99 percent with a budget-to-budget increase of 1.37 percent.

The majority of residents across the Town of Smithtown voted “yes” to their districts’ proposed budgets and approved their board of education incumbents.

Smithtown Central School District

Smithtown residents passed the $255,203,276 budget for 2020-21, 7,345 to 3,726.

Incumbents Matthew Gribbin (8,295), Frank James (5,479) and Jerry Martusciello (8,362) retained their seats on the board. Kevin Craine, who challenged James’ seat, received 4,104 votes.

The 2020-21 budget is a 1.50 percent increase from last year’s budget, and the tax levy increase of 1.82 percent is under the cap.

Commack School District

Commack School District’s 2020-21 budget of $199,759,525 was approved by residents, 5,332 to 2,128.

Trustee Susan Hermer retained her seat with 3,401 votes. Her challenger Mike Weisberg garnered 3,021. Incumbent William Hender ran unopposed and received 5,157 votes.

The 2020-2021 school budget has a tax cap levy increase of 1.99 percent with a budget-to-budget increase of 1.37 percent.

Kings Park Central School District

Kings Park residents voted in favor of the $96,510,404 budget, 3,223 to 1,859.

Joe Bianco ran unopposed and was elected to a three-year term with 4,146 votes.

The budget represents a 2.80 percent increase over last year’s total of $93,880,803, with a 3.27 percent tax levy increase.

“During these challenging times, I am most thankful for the ongoing support from the Kings Park Community,” said Superintendent Timothy Eagen in an email. “Over the past 14 weeks, the Kings Park family has shown great resiliency, grit and persistence.  We have come together as a family.  With our budget successfully passed, we can begin to plan for a safe reentry in September.”

Hauppauge Union Free School District

Hauppauge’s 2020-2021 budget of $115,735,467 budget passed 3,907 to 1,314. The budget shows a 0.28 percent decrease, and an increase to the tax levy of 2.3 percent, due to higher property taxes, meets the tax cap.

Board of education trustee incumbents Dr. Lawrence Crafa and James Kiley both ran for another three-year term unopposed and received 3,867 and 3,320 votes, respectively.

Commack HIgh School. Photo from Google Maps

The average Commack homeowner will see an annual tax increase of around $200 if residents vote “yes” for the 2020-2021 school budget of $199,759,525. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, homeowners will vote on the budget via mail as no in-person voting will be made available.

The Commack School District Board of Education adopted the budget during its meeting held via Zoom May 19. If approved by residents, the tax cap levy increase will be 1.99 percent with a budget-to-budget increase of 1.37 percent.

Superintendent Donald James said the district, like others across New York state, is still waiting to hear if state aid will be cut later in the year, which means certain budget line items may still change. As Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a few weeks ago that districts can see cuts of 20 percent or more, James said that figure is an average and the exact amount, whether lower or higher, would be based on the size and wealth of the district. He said there could be rolling cuts as well.

“That’s not good news,” he said. “That’s challenging for us because once programs are in place you count on your funds coming in, and you count on managing your programs based on funds you think you’re going to get from the state.”

The superintendent said while it’s difficult to plan the budget without knowing the exact amount of reductions, they have developed alternative plans if they’re more than anticipated.

James said some reductions in the budget were enrollment driven and in place before the pandemic. There will also be reductions in personnel due to resignations or retirements. There will be 11 full-time employees less due to retirement, 10 FTE teacher assistants reduced after program reviews and 12.7 FTE, plus approximately 32 individuals such as school monitors and instructional aides due to enrollment decline.

These staff reductions have already resulted in budget savings due to the attrition. The superintendent said they may have to revisit reducing staff further, as the district may need to revisit the number of cafeteria monitors.

James said there is currently a task force looking at changes which may be required to open up schools with COVID-19 distancing practices put in place. The superintendent said transportation, sports, field trips, school gatherings and more could be affected. Possible changes could include temperatures being taken and physical measures to help with distancing. The possible increase in costs is something the district is unable to estimate at this time.

James said he has received some suggestions involving opening up school post-COVID to maintain physical distance, including reducing class sizes. He said to a certain degree the district could do so if they double the number of teachers, but the problem is the buildings don’t have double the number of classrooms.

He said the district may have to look at other ways to schedule student classes.

If the budget is passed June 9, the district plans to keep classroom sizes the same or lower, and mental health support and programs such as arts, music, physical education and more will stay intact. The district is also planning a Chromebook laptop initiative, and every student is set to receive one. James said it will be a benefit even when students return to classrooms as their books will now be loaded on Chromebooks.

James said there is a pandemic elimination adjustment of $226,250, and the district received federal stimulus money that took care of that and they may get more. He said there is not much in the capital reserve funds, however, if there is a 20 percent cut in state aid it would mean more than $6.6 million taken from the budget.

The superintendent said due to school closures the district saved $3 million, part of that money being for transportation, which could be applied to next year.

James said the district has properties they could sell to tenants who are interested, though he stressed that he was not talking about Marion Carll Farm. He said selling any properties would need residents approval through a vote.

There is a possibility of saving $2.55 million with the elimination of Common Core and individuals involved with the program such as instructional aides. Other things that could be looked into are reducing high school electives, field trips, art and music classes, staff reductions and professional development for teachers.

James said if the budget isn’t passed in June it would mean the district would have to cut an additional $2,834,090 from the budget for a total cut of $7.8 million. The Chromebook project would be eliminated as well as no equipment purchases would be made. Also, residents and community organizations would be unable to use the facilities and grounds, while elementary and middle school class sizes would need to increase and several high school electives, athletics and clubs would be eliminated.

A public hearing will be held June 2 during a virtual meeting that will be simulcast on the district’s website, www.commackschools.org.The budget vote is set for June 9.

Commack School District Board of Education has two seats up for grabs with incumbent Susan Hermer and Mike Weisberg running for one position. As for the second seat, incumbent William Hender is running unopposed. For more information on the candidates, visit www.tbrnewsmedia.com.

Commack School District Board of Education has two seats up for grabs with incumbent Susan Hermer and Mike Weisberg running for one position. As for the second seat, incumbent William Hender is running unopposed.

Voting will be done through ballots mailed to residents, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are due back to the district by June 9.

Susan Hermer

Susan Hermer. Photo from candidate

Last year, Hermer beat out Jennifer Scully for a one-year term after the resignation of former board member Jennifer Carpenter.

The attorney, with a general practice firm in Bohemia, said being on the board has been fulfilling for her.

“I am running for my first full term because I enjoy being on the board advocating for our students and teachers,” she said. “And all members of this board get along and respect each other. I love our kids and the school district, and I relish being back in the schools since I no longer have kids in the district.”

She said she is concerned that some programs may need to be cut from the budget due to the reduction in state aid.

“I also want to make sure our special-needs students get all the help they need,” she said. “I am happy with the lease we worked out with Long Island University and the Marion Carll property, and I am pleased with the capital projects bond we recently passed.”

Last year the district worked out a deal with LIU for the educational institution to use the Marion Carll Farm, which was left to the district decades ago and fell into disrepair as it became difficult to keep up with the expenses to maintain the property.

Mike Weisberg

Mike Weisberg. Photo from candidate

A lifelong resident of Commack and school psychologist in a neighboring district, Weisberg said he believes his professional experience, as well as being a parent and working in a school district, will be an asset to the trustee position.

He said with the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, he feels there will be an increased need to support students socially and emotionally. He added he believes there will be more issues regarding the negative effects of an overdigitalized world.

“Now we’re dealing with a global crisis, with an emphasis on social learning,” he said. “I really believe even before we got into this pandemic, we were seeing an increased need in dealing with this overdigitalization.”

Weisberg had originally planned to run last year, and said he postponed his candidacy to become more involved in committee work in the district. He said his main concerns are maintaining the programs and the number of classes currently offered in the district.

“Commack has done a great job of providing a lot of that,” he said. “I would really like to do whatever we can to maintain that diversity, because educating a student is much more than teaching math equations or learning a specific skill. It’s really about helping children to develop into their full potential as adults, and schools really play a vital role in that.”

William Hender

William Hender. Photo from candidate

This will be the second term on the board for Hender. He said he brings an “important and necessary skill set to the position.”

“Having spent the past 20 years in education, as a teacher and administrator, I have a good understanding of what is necessary to continue to provide access and opportunity for all our students,” he said. “I think we have developed a great team here in Commack and I am happy to be part of it. I am a product of the Commack School system and attribute many of my successes to the education that I received. I want all students, including my own children, to have the same wonderful experiences for years to come.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hender said he had no concerns regarding the budget. “However, now I have many concerns, such as will the governor continue to make cuts to school aid throughout the year, and if so, how much?” he said. “In addition, I am concerned about what changes in programs and cuts we will need to make once the actual cut in state aid is announced.”

After 50 years of trials and tribulations, the Commack School District is forging ahead with a plan to use the Marion Carll Farm on Commack Road for educational purposes, but some activists are not happy with the decision. 

Since July, the district has been renting its barns to Long Island University. The site is expected to become the region’s first veterinarian school of medicine by September 2020.

“We expect animals to be on the site by February,” said Superintendent Donald James.

But, Cynthia Clark, a concerned citizen, who formed the Marion Carll Preserve Inc. said she has asked the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau to intervene. Her goal, she said, is to acquire, restore and sustainably run the site in perpetuity according to benefactor Marion Carll’s wishes. 

“For 50 years, the district has squandered this gift,” Clark said. “It’s a crime! A cultural and ethical crime.” 

Clark said that she has commitments with Harbor Harvest to buy organic produce grown on the 9-acre site and can secure grants to restore all buildings. But the district unanimously chose the LIU proposal over her application earlier this year. 

LIU’s proposal, according to an LIU spokesperson, met both the wishes of Marion Carll’s Last Will and Testament along with the Commack School District’s standards for financial viability. The district stated the plan will include providing valuable educational programs to the children of the district. James said that the district expects to implement a shadowing program that will provide an opportunity for students to look at career options that they might not otherwise consider. Animals on the premises will include cows, goats and chickens. The district also expects to offer lessons on beekeeping to the students. 

The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has not been adequately maintained.  Carll’s will, granting the property to the district, stipulates maintaining the buildings as historical museums for educational purposes. Clark sounded the alarm this past summer, she said, when the property was being cleared without appropriate permits and as work commenced to replace the barn’s roof. The state Department of Education has since issued a stop work order.

The home on the Marion Carll Farm in its current condition.

In an interview on the Marion Carll Farm, James said that he expects to have all needed permits before the year’s end. LIU’s rent of $15,000, he said, will fund the stabilization of the house and barn and be used to properly catalog and preserve the contents of the building. After that, the district said it will remove the antiques within the farmhouse while restoration occurs.  

The house is not part of the lease with LIU, but the district is counting on the rental income to finance repairs. LIU, James said, has already spent $700,000 repairing the historical red barn and replacing its roof and clearing dead trees and overgrowth. The university will also cover expenses related to installing historically correct fencing, complete repairs to the barn and other buildings and lend labor to restore the historic home. Over the next 10 years, LIU is committed to spend $175,000, James said, and the district is committed to spend $350,000, which is the savings associated with LIU maintaining the entire property. 

Clark, who is a preservation specialist for leather clothing and furniture, estimates that the restoration project will cost $2.5 million plus another $1.5 million to restore the furnishings in the house. The preserve, she said, applied for nonprofit 501(c)(3) status last year, but the application is still pending. She said that she’s already spent thousands of her own money on the project, but expects to be able to secure the funds she needs through grants and said in a telephone interview that she is aligned with a successful grant writer with a “100 percent track record.” She could not provide the name. 

Clark’s plan was one of several options that the district considered earlier this year. The district ultimately chose the Long Island University lease, largely because of its long-term economic viability.  

Long Island University’s College of Veterinary Medicine spokesperson Mary  Studdert stated in an email that it has received a Letter of Reasonable Assurance from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education (AVMA-COE) enabling LIU to immediately begin accepting applications for the fall 2020 semester. At full enrollment, the veterinary school will serve 400 students, with 100 in each graduating class and will be the first College of Veterinary Medicine in the New York Metropolitan area.

The conflict with Clark arises just years after the district was sued by the Carll heirs to revert ownership back to the Carll heirs because of the district’s failure to fulfill the will’s obligations. The district ultimately won the 2012 case in summary judgment on statute of limitation grounds, stating that the heirs were 12 years too late. Restrictions on the district’s obligations were lifted to clear title, according to board member Jarret Behar. James said that the district could now legally sell the site, if it wanted to, but said the board is committed to its preservation and use as a historical museum with educational purposes. 

The house, according to the district, is structurally sound, but part of the building is still taking on rain. The main structure is covered with a rubber membrane to control leaks, but James said in an email that more leaks formed in different places and need to be fixed. The stop work order, he said, is now yet another hurdle that interferes with the district’s efforts to properly maintain the site.

One of many structures on the 9-acre Marion Carll Farm.

Clark said that she can reveal no details about her conversations with the attorney general’s office but said that she is hopeful. 

The Carll family was one of Huntington’s earliest settlers and Marion Carll was Commack’s first teacher. She died in 1968 and willed the site to the district. The site was occupied by a Carll family member until 1993, as stipulated in the will. The district leased part of the site to BOCES from 1990 to 2000 and sought to sell the farm to developers for $750,000 in 2010, but the public referendum failed. 

Over the years, different school boards have had different ideas on how to use the property. James, who grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania, said that the board is committed to doing what’s best for the district. 

Commack School District celebrated its commencement ceremonies June 26.

Deniz Sinar has earned the title of academic leader at Commack High School, which is given to the two students with the highest weighted GPA upon the completion of high school. Sinar graduated with a 104.57 weighted GPA. She will be attending Cornell University in the fall as a biological engineering major. She has won several awards, including a National Merit Scholarship. She was involved in the National Italian, Tri-M Music and Science Honor societies, and was the secretary of the Math Honor Society and varsity math team. Sinar raised money for Long Island Against Domestic Violence and volunteered to visit nursing home residents through Commack’s Glamour Gals Club. She was also a member of the chamber orchestra for three years and took part in the Future American String Teachers Association Club and the Pathways freshman art and literary magazine.

By David Luces

Students, teachers and parents in Commack recently went bald for a cause.

For the 10th year running, members of the Commack School District and surrounding community gathered at the high school March 1 to shave their heads in support of childhood cancer research. Over 100 people participated to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a not-for-profit whose goal is to raise funds to find cures for childhood cancer. 

In the past nine years the district has held the event, Commack has raised over $650,000. This year the district raised close to $45,000, with some teams donating well over $10,000. 

The annual event is organized by Commack High School teachers Lee Tunick, Bill Scaduto and Dan Revera. Since its inception, close to 1,000 people have shaved their heads in solidarity to those suffering childhood cancer. Hairdressing students from Eastern Suffolk BOCES donated their time to cut the participants hair.

The idea for the fundraiser came about through a cancer awareness club that Revera and Scaduto ran at the high school for quite some time. 

“Bill Scaduto and myself have been working in this building for 20 years,” said Revera. At that time St. Baldrick’s didn’t exist as we know it today. When we first found out about St. Baldrick’s, we would go to a school in Northport and a colleague of mine thought why don’t we host our own event here [at the high school].” 

Now with the event in its 10th year, Revera said it is great to see Commack School District students and community come out to support this.  

“One of the main influx of people [that come here] are the elementary students,” the high school teacher said. “Anything that we can do to generate [money] to help these kids who are going through this is great.” Revera added that the students that came to the event have shown bravery, have stood up for what’s right and are dedicated to a good cause. 

“That’s why we are here,” he said. “Just the thought of a family going through something like this and dealing with their child battling cancer — I can’t even imagine. If providing one day where we can support them and try to help however we can, it’s the least we can do.”

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Patrick Musumeci. Photo from SCPD

A former worker at the Commack School District has been indicted for the alleged illegal possession of weapons and drugs following an investigation by the Suffolk County Police Department.

“It’s very concerning to have an individual who has access to a school allegedly be in possession of drugs and illegal firearms,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) said in a statement. “Residents in the defendant’s neighborhood saw something, said something, and the Suffolk County Police Department acted swiftly to investigate and arrest this defendant.”

Patrick Musumeci, 30, a former maintenance worker for Commack School District, was charged with four counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, five counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, four counts of criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and several misdemeanors.

On Feb. 6, at approximately 5:35 a.m., Suffolk County police detectives from the 5th Squad Special Operations Team and officers from the Emergency Service Section and 5th Precinct Gang Unit executed a search warrant at Musumeci’s residence, located at 57 Wilmarth Ave. in Patchogue. The search warrant was executed pursuant to a narcotics investigation into alleged drug dealing at the residence, which was reported to police through the Suffolk County Crime Stoppers hotline.

Commack school officials reacted to news of Musumeci’s arrest by posting a letter to district residents on its website.

“The district has found no evidence to date that he ever brought a weapon or drugs onto school property,” reads the district’s statement. “To date, we have not found any suspicious activity on school property.”

Musumeci was allegedly in illegal possession of four assault weapons and four additional firearms, namely a Bee Miller 9 mm semi-automatic rifle, a .233-caliber Bushmaster Remington semi-automatic rifle, a .233-caliber Smith and Wesson Remington semi-automatic rifle, a .22-caliber CBC long rifle semi-automatic rifle, a .40-caliber Glock Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol, a .40-caliber Taurus Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol, a .22-caliber Sturm, Ruger & Co. revolver and a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson special revolver. Musumeci also allegedly possessed brass knuckles.

Two of the handguns recovered during the search warrant were previously reported stolen.

Musumeci is also alleged to have possessed quantities of oxycodone; methadone; Xanax; morphine; concentrated cannabis, known as THC, in e-cigarette cartridges; marijuana; a digital scale; and packaging materials consistent with narcotics sales.

Musumeci was also allegedly in possession of several hand-pressed pills made to resemble oxycodone. An analysis of the pills revealed they were actually composed of a mixture of fentanyl, methamphetamine and tramadol.

Information on Musumeci’s attorney was not available.

Musumeci was arraigned on the indictment Feb. 28 by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen. Bail was previously set at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond. He is due back in court March 19.

If convicted of the top count, Musumeci faces a maximum sentence of up to nine years in prison.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nicole Felice of the Narcotics Bureau.

Commack HIgh School. Photo from Google Maps

Suffolk County police officers arrested a man who works as an evening custodian for the Commack School District after a search found he had a stash of illegal guns and drugs inside his Patchogue home.

Patrick Musumeci, 30, was arrested Feb. 6 by police officers and faces 24 drug- and weapons-related charges.

Patrick Musumeci. Photo from SCPD

Following an investigation, Suffolk’s 5th Squad Special Operations Team and Emergency Section Service officers along with 5th Precinct Gang Unit officers executed a search warrant on Musumeci’s home on Wilmarth Avenue at approximately 5:35 a.m.

In the raid, officers found 16 guns inside the Patchogue home, including one Glock semiautomatic handgun, a Taurus semiautomatic handgun and four assault rifles, with ammunition. Two of the guns, a Smith & Wesson pistol and Ruger pistol had both previously been reported stolen. In addition to the guns, officers seized five sets of brass knuckles and a switchblade.

In addition to the weapons, Suffolk County police officers seized quantities of both prescription opiates and illegal drugs from the Patchogue home. The drugs found included oxycodone, Xanax, concentrated cannabis, marijuana, morphine pills and packaging materials.

Musumeci is charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, six counts of criminal possession in the seventh degree, two counts of criminal use of drug paraphernalia in the second degree, criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree, five counts criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, four counts criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree and one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree.

Commack school officials reacted to news of Musumeci’s arrest by posting a letter to district residents on its website.

“The district has found no evidence to date that he ever brought a weapon or drugs onto school property,” reads the district’s statement. “To date, we have not found any suspicious activity on school property.”

Prior to being hired, Musumeci was fingerprinted and underwent a background check by New York State, according to the district. He was cleared, and state law would have required the district to be notified of any subsequent arrests, of which they claim to have received none.

Commack school officials said the district also has conducted an extensive search of the employee lockers, areas of the buildings the evening custodian was responsible for overseeing and reviewed buildingwide video footage in the wake of the allegations.

“The district and its outside security consultant will continue to review its safety and security plans and determine whether or not additional precautions are warranted,” read the district’s statement.

Musumeci was arraigned Feb. 7 in 1st District Court in Central Islip. He was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond, which had not been posted as of Feb. 13.

Commack school officials said their investigation into the matter is ongoing and the district is fully cooperating with the Suffolk police department.

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Commack HIgh School. Photo from Google Maps

A teacher is suing the Commack school district stating it has fostered an atmosphere of racial harassment and discrimination against her for more than 17 years.

Andrea Bryan, of Bay Shore, filed a lawsuit Dec. 19 in the U.S. District Court of Eastern New York against Commack Union Free School District saying administrators “exhibited a deliberate indifference” when she reported her fellow faculty and students were racially harassing her, according to the lawsuit.

Bryan, who is described only as a “black female of Caribbean descent” in the lawsuit, has worked as English teacher at Commack High School since 2002. She alleges the racial harassment began prior to 2015, when a faculty colleague first told her a bag of peanuts was “for whites only.” The teacher said she reported a complaint with her supervisor, according to court records.

“The Commack school district takes any allegation of discrimination seriously and, as a matter of policy and practice, acts swiftly in response to any claim,” district spokeswoman Brenda Lentsch said.

Bryan alleges that the racial discrimination against her, as “the only black teacher in the entire school district,” has only escalated since then.

We can say that all of her claims were investigated and, to the extent appropriate, promptly addressed.”

— Brenda Lentsch

In the lawsuit, she details an alleged incident where she was asked to “translate slave talk” by the same co-worker while English students were studying Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible,” which features a character named Tituba who is an enslaved black woman.

Bryan also claims to have received a bottle of hand sanitizer during a Secret Santa gift giving between co-workers with a $50 spending limit, that she took indicated the co-worker thought she was “dirty” due to her race.

The district’s spokesperson said that the school’s administration have been made aware of the incidents alleged by Bryan over recent years.

“We can say that all of her claims were investigated and, to the extent appropriate, promptly addressed,” Lentsch said in a statement. “Several of these allegations were first raised many years ago and were resolved at that time. Many of the allegations in the lawsuit are false.”

While unwilling to discuss specific details citing privacy requirements, the district’s spokeswoman said Bryan’s claim that she is the only black teacher in Commack school district is “incorrect.”

But the English teacher said the racially motivated insults and harassment she experienced went beyond the faculty and administration, and began to trickle down to students in her classroom. Bryan alleges a student once came to school in blackface makeup dressed as Aunt Jemima, a caricature of “a devoted and submissive plantation slave” depicted on a line of pancake syrup and breakfast foods put out by The Quaker Oats Company. For several years, the teacher claims students have called her Aunt Jemima in the school’s classrooms, hallways and cafeteria causing her to be “greatly humiliated, embarrassed and degraded.”

Commack school district’s Code of Conduct states that “intimidation or abuse based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (identity or expression), or sex” will not be tolerated, according to Lentsch.

Through the lawsuit, Bryan is seeking monetary damages from the district for the racial
discrimination, though the documents don’t specify a dollar amount. Her attorney, Peter Romero of Hauppauge, said he had no comment given the matter is currently pending litigation. A jury trial has been demanded.