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Departed Wantagh Superintendent Officially Resigns from District

Phil D'Angelo's resignation is accepted by the Wantagh school board.

Five months after being placed on administrative leave, short-lived Wantagh Superintendent Phil D'Angelo is no longer employed by the school district.

Michael Cucci, president of the Wantagh school board, announced Thursday night that the district has accepted D'Angelo's resignation. D'Angelo was placed on leave by the Wantagh Board of Education on Sept. 14, less than three months into his role as superintendent. He landed a new superintendent job with the Millbrook Central School District in Westchester County that began on Jan. 1.

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"Mr. D'Angelo is no longer an employee of the Wantagh School District," said Cucci in a statement during Thursday night's board of education meeting. "The board will now engage the process of discussing the appointment of a new superintendent of schools."

Cucci said for legal reasons he could not disclose whether D'Angelo was still receiving compensation from the district. At the Dec. 13 school board meeting, Cucci said the district was continuing to pay D'Angelo's salary on top of Acting Superintendent Maureen Goldberg. At last month's board meeting, Cucci assured the community that both parties were working with their attorneys to sever the contractual relationship.

Chris Wendt February 15, 2013 at 11:59 AM
The focus now needs to shift in earnest to a permanent professional educational leader for the Wantagh School District. Step One needs to be to remedy whatever those factors (and people) are who contributed to the sorry game of musical chairs that has been played in the Administrative Wing of the Wantagh School District among 5 Superintendents, one Assistant Superintendent, a Middle School Principal, an Athletic Director, and a couple of high-visibility coaches. People who are not, themselves, professional educational leaders should not act as professional educational leaders, but instead should submit themselves with alacrity to following good, solid, professional educational leadership. Otherwise, let the music play on!
Concerned Taxpayer February 15, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Great that he finally "resigned" after beginning another job on 1/2/13 and continued to be paid by our tax dollars up until now. Unfortunately, I think the musical chairs will continue until the Board gets their perfect puppet. Someone should be held accountable for the almost $300k this whole superintendent debacle ended up costing the Wantagh taxpayers.
Lorraine DeVita February 15, 2013 at 01:55 PM
"Cucci said for legal reasons he could not disclose whether D'Angelo was still receiving compensation from the district" Typically resignation means separation from payroll - So either i didnt drink enough coffee this AM and read this wrong or this is a rather mystifying statement by the board that leaves wantagh with a resigned Sup but still many unanswered questions primarily why they were in the situation to begin with and more importantly are they STILL paying salaries to two people, one doing the job the other no longer employed. IF this person was" wrongly" put on leave due to differences of opinon etc., then the Wantagh board should admit to the taxpayers "we goofed" and resign enmass. This not only depletes monies and diverts funds away from the students it harms and undermines the reputation, effectiveness and integrity of the district itself. Somewhere along the line the question should be raised has the board violated their fiduciary responsibiltly to the community by their actions in this whole debacle.
Rob February 15, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Not completely sure what all these line items exactly mean but the budget documents in the agenda for last nights meeting still show a $162,683 adjustment to the original Superintendents salary of $225,000 - bringing the total adjusted budget to $387,683. $225K has been expensed, and $181K has been encumbered and -$20K is available. Wondering if Chris or anyone else can elaborate on how these budget line items actually work?
Darlene February 15, 2013 at 04:10 PM
yes looking at the Budget it seems that its public information just do the math. Chris since your educated can you elaborate! Does anyone know what the fair market value the rent WE Friends School is paying?
Rob February 15, 2013 at 04:54 PM
The question about the budget is more involved than simply doing the math...the question really becomes, if / when will the district see a negative adjustment to the budget line item for the Supers salary. Also complicated questions about what budget area was the $162K taken from and if the district gets reimbursed which budget line item will those funds land in? The BOE was a little evasive about that in the meeting prior to last nights...I believe the response was ' we have favorable budget positions on other line items' or something like that. I know we have some Reserves in the budget but if you look at the agenda there were several large adjustments made to the following: 'Building Projects' for $120K 'New K-12 Texts' for $122K 'NON-AIDABLE COMP EQUIP DISTWIDE' for $80K 'Workers Comp' for $75K and then some major budget deductions to Health Insurance and 'Interest on TANS' totaling over $410K in negative adjustments...which seem to help 'balance' the budget but whats it all really mean?
Concerned Taxpayer February 15, 2013 at 06:53 PM
I believe the $225k represents D'Angelo's salary, and the $162,683 represents Maureen Goldberg's prorated salary as acting superintendent
Chris Wendt February 15, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Sometimes when you have specific questions, it is appropriate to go to the source and ask. I have learned from Mike Cucci that the official resignation of Mr. D'Angelo was the result of a negotiated structured settlement which will cost the district ten percent (10%) of Mr. D'Agelo's initial contract. I have ascertained that the cost of this settlement has not negatively impacted any programs or staff, with most if not all of the money coming from the TANs (Tax Anticipation Notes) adjustment, as the result of good fiscal management which reduced the need for TAN's this year. In my opinion, had the matter languished in legal process, the cost to the district would have exceeded the cost of the eventual settlement several times over. While no one should be happy about this episode, it is now concluded, and in the best manner for all concerned. That means it is over, and the parties have signed-off on it.
Michael G. February 16, 2013 at 02:03 AM
The time for secret deals for administrators with school boards is now past. Our school boards often hire one loser after another because they don't follow proper hiring practices like REALLY checking the record of the prospective administrator. It is time to demand professional, ethical conduct from school boards. Getting a proper education starts at the top, and can stop there as well.
wantagh February 16, 2013 at 02:46 AM
My opinion is he was paid to leave and not say anything and now we cant say anything you know confidentiality.Things will never change here because too many people dont want to hear it or believe it. Not one person stood up and questioned anything about him being paid to leave. Not one question about how much or where it came from. We now know it didnt impact the kids yet. What could the kids have had with that money? It may be over here but whatever he was accused for he is capable of doing it or getting away with at another school with other people and somebody elses children. Guess it isnt our problem so does that make ok? tired of paying taxes that are so high and not knowing what I am spending it on...
Lorraine DeVita February 16, 2013 at 03:40 AM
Why the assumption it was him? Typically people arent paid to resign nor does a employer pay someone a settlement if THEY are in the right . If HE was in the wrong or violated his contract they could have fired him for cause , or breach of contract or a myriad of other built in clauses to escape the "penalty fee" YOU are paying and regardless of where it comes from it is taxpayer money and could have been spent on the students. Also thinking how odd .. Chris W. can get a semi clear answer with a phone call but the people attending the meetings couldnt "While no one should be happy about this episode, it is now concluded, and in the best manner for all concerned. That means it is over, and the parties have signed-off on it" Chris until the taxpayers of Wantagh get a clear explaination of WHAT exactly transpired and why they are paying. You cant sweep 10% of over a million dollars plus legal fees plus salary, benefits and pension for 3 months, recruiting fee;s etc under a rug and not notice its there. Seems like there are LOTS of lumps being swept under Wantaghs rug right now..How long before you all begin to question WHY?
Concerned Citizen February 16, 2013 at 11:22 AM
We may as well get past it! The Board is never going to explain what really happened. Heard they told D'angelo they would back him on his decisions then overruled him on the "MEL Thing" and he saw the handwriting on the wall long term and told them he wanted out so he left with them with egg on their faces because he had some "out" in his contract that allowed him to leave and get paid. Time to move on. We need to explore the possibility of a Wantagh-Seaford School District combination to cut costs of all types. This might help long term. Any opinions?
Chris Wendt February 16, 2013 at 12:22 PM
We should recognize the facts here. One, D'Anglo's contract was on the District website and many people have read it. If anyone thinks they read "some 'out' in his contact that allowed him to leave and get paid", then please post it. (There isn't one). Two. D'Angelo was placed on leave with pay by the District, who then hired an investigator. More than a year elapsed, and the investigator filed his report with the District. Three. In the latter phase of the District's investigation, Mr. D'Angelo was hired by another school district as their Superintendent, and for a period D'Angelo was collecting salary from two districts, while Wantagh was paying two superintendent salaries. Wantagh was obliged to pay D'Angelo as a matter of due process and the presumption of his innocence of whatever the underling issue or allegation may have been which triggered his being suspended and investigated. Four. Two month's of negotiations ensued between the District and D'Angelo which resulted in a structured settlement being reached between the parties. This settlement resulted in D'Angelo being remunerated for submitting his resignation, ending his employment relationship with Wantagh, and defining and reducing Wantagh's potential liability to D'Angelo. This settlement came on the heels of a lengthy professional investigation, and followed D'Angelo's being hired in another district for the same job. We will never know the details of the original issue. Let's move on.
Concerned Citizen February 16, 2013 at 01:12 PM
Although the timelime you suggest does not make sense. Item Two "more then a year elsapsed" . Was under the impression all this is only going on since last summer. You are right it is time to move on . Can only imagine what we will face next in our district.
Chris Wendt February 16, 2013 at 05:03 PM
My error, the timeline started last year (2012); D'Angelo's leave was announced by the Board in September; approximately three months elapsed before the investigator filed his report with the Board. While moving on, it is probably best to imagine good things happening in our school district.
Concerned Taxpayer February 16, 2013 at 09:06 PM
I agree, we do need to move forward and be “grateful” that this did not cost any more than it did. However, if something was discovered that related to his past, someone was at fault for not doing their due diligence. If he did nothing wrong, then the Board should be held accountable. And finally, if he did something wrong/inappropriate during the 2 ½ months that he was the superintendent, there should have been something in his contract that should have voided our obligation to him. Perhaps we should question how our attorney draws up the contract and why a 5 year contract is signed. After all, it has been quite a while since one superintendent was even in the district for 5 years. More importantly than the significant cost of this in dollars and cents, is the cost of this to the students of the school district. Consistent and qualified leadership is needed now more than ever. As we now begin another search for a superintendent, will anything be done different so that this does not happen again? The district and the students cannot afford another debacle like this.
CO February 17, 2013 at 09:26 PM
Unless I missd something Chris said above: 1- why did Wantagh need to hire a PI to investigate D'Angelo 2- how much was this PI paid and how and who hired him/she 3- why was this PI on the clock for one year 4- what was the conflict/crime etc what caused this contract with DAngelo to be voided? As Wantagh tax payers, we are entitled to know what happened... As for Wantagh being obligated to pay DAneglo during due process this should have stopped immediately once he started getting paid by another school district. Accepting this matter as concluded is rediculous without knowing full weel what went wrong as for it not to happen again.
Concerned in Seaford February 18, 2013 at 12:23 PM
I agree with Mr. Wendt inasmuch as now that D'Angelo is "officially" gone, the business of the district is to focus finding a permanent successor. Lucky for the district that Ms. Goldberg was willing to step up and lead. The "word on the street" is that she is doing a fabulous job! Hopefully, she is interested in sticking around for a while. Barring that possibility, there remain several important issues , which I believe, are being overlooked by the school board despite some level of outcry from the public. Since D'Angelo found little difficulty in securing a new position in New York, one can only assume that whatever "sins" he committed in Wantagh were of the venial and not the mortal variety (sorry, too much Catholic education). Thus, how was it that the BOE was not able to work things out with him? Let us also consider the larger context of 4 different superintendents who appeared to be incapable of sustaining a working relationship with the board. The word on the street also speaks of incredible micromanagement on the part of trustees who are attempting to use their positions to settle personal vendettas with staff and community members as well as to anoint "friends of friends and relatives." I have conditioned myself to not believe everything that I hear in life, however, when one hears the same chatter over and over again, one must wonder if even a small amount of it is true.
Concerned in Seaford February 18, 2013 at 12:30 PM
I try to examine the facts and here they are: 5 superintendents in one year in a small bedroom community known for incredible community support of education and, until now, stability and longevity of administrative leadership. So, what has changed? It isn't the Tax Cap, not the children or the teachers. As Mr. Wendt would testify, there also used to be stability and longevity on the board, a board that worked well with administration and the community. Time for self-reflection Board of Education, Lead by Example or get out of the way of those who will! Enough is enough ! You are destroying the reputation of a very fine school district.
Concerned Taxpayer February 18, 2013 at 05:28 PM
I agree with Concerned in Seaford. However, while Ms. Goldberg is very good about leaving ConnectEd messages to keep everyone informed, I hope that is not all she brings to the table. In addition, if the Board realized what a qualified candidate she is, why was she not appointed last year and the whole D'Angelo mess could have been avoided? I also think that there is not only a problem with keeping superintendents, but other administrative positions as well. It seems that the only people that continue in these positions are FOBs (Friends of the Board). Maybe it is time that the Board needs a complete overhaul. This is truly hurting the students, and the value of our homes here in Wantagh.
Chris Wendt February 18, 2013 at 06:38 PM
@ Concerned Taxpayer re: "...(Dr) Goldberg...if the Board realized what a qualified candidate she is, why was she not appointed last year...?" Your question presumes that she had applied for the position; it is not clear that she ever did.
Concerned Taxpayer February 18, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Valid point Chris, but it is not Dr. Goldberg.
Concerned in Seaford February 19, 2013 at 11:50 AM
I suppose that we will simply have to wait this one out. The onset of the school budget season may mean that, at least for the moment, there are bigger fish to fry. Probably not a good idea to set out on a search, if that's what they are going to do, right now.
Chris Wendt February 19, 2013 at 03:18 PM
@ Michael G re: "Our school boards often hire one loser after another because they don't follow proper hiring practices like REALLY checking the record of the prospective administrator." First, I would take serious exception with the characterization of the lineup of administrators who have passed through our district as being "losers", or, as "one loser after another". I don't have to recite the litany of names of the Superintendents, or the Assistant Superintendent, Middle School Principal, and Athletic Director who have come and gone in very recent and rapid succession, or, the saga of the coaches. In the case of recruiting Phil D'Angelo, the district engaged the preeminent Superintendent Search firm in the state, and the position was marketed and candidates sourced totally professionally. The Board of Education, or most of them, had gone up to Mr. D'Angelo's home district and did their own due diligenence prior to his starting at Wantagh. I could not think of anything that was not done which should have or could have been done but may have been overlooked or omitted in the hiring of Mr. D'Angelo. His contract was posted for all to see, and it was typical of Superintendent contracts, especially those given to any person hired away from his home district. D'Anglo was fully into his job, and had launched a "Declining Enrollment & Full-day Kindergarten Committee" with broad community participation by the time he left. To me, his departure was stunning.
Concerned Citizen February 20, 2013 at 12:50 PM
BOTTOM LINE--We are entitled to know why he was asked or forced to leave since we were paying his salary . If the reason he is no longer here was unfounded then he should have not been asked to leave. This secret agenda stuff is terrible. Maybe some new people should be given a chance to serve on the board. Keep this in mind next May when you hear of new people who want a chance at it.
Concerned in Seaford February 20, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Agreed!

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