Thursday, December 7, 2023

Editorial | What happened to Rodney Asse? Is he still being paid his $195k salary even though another person has been hired to do his job at $1,200 per day?

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Three weeks and two Riverhead school board meetings have passed and the public still remains in the dark about what is going on with the school district administration.

District officials seem to believe the taxpayers of the district have no right to know — despite being stuck with the tab every time a high-level administrator makes an abrupt and inevitably expensive exit.

We disagree.

We believe the district can make responsible disclosure regarding the circumstances of the superintendent’s abrupt departure last month without violating the privacy law officials like to hide behind.

And it should.

Same goes for the disappearance of the assistant superintendent for business. Rodney Asse told RiverheadLOCAL on Oct. 24 that he was leaving the district. He was gone later that day. But district officials have not acknowledged his departure or any negotiation concerning a planned separation. In fact, they have said nothing whether he is still employed by the district and, if so, where he is working and what he is doing. The school board has not accepted his resignation, at least not publicly. And it has passed no resolution terminating his employment.

Given these facts, we can only assume Asse is still collecting his paycheck. Asse is paid an annual salary of $194,750. How long will he go on collecting his salary without, apparently, working?

Again, district officials seem to believe the taxpayers of the district have no right to know.

Again, we disagree.

And, to add insult to injury, the district has hired an acting assistant superintendent for business who is being paid $1,200 per day as of Oct. 25. Through June 30, she will have earned $202,800 in this “acting” role, even though the position, as far as the public can tell, wasn’t vacant — because the $195,000-per-year employee, Asse, has not resigned or been terminated. As far as the public knows, anyway. How do you hire someone to fill a position that hasn’t been vacated?

And this comes after the district “reassigned” its former longtime business official in October 2011 without explanation — and, it later became apparent, without good cause — and then agreed to pay him his full salary for the rest of the fiscal year.

It agreed to pay the recently departed superintendent his full salary through the end June 2024 as part of his separation agreement.

This administrative shuffle in Riverhead gets expensive real fast. Just what we know so far carries a price tag of over $600,000. And that does not include a contract buyout for Asse, should that be in the offing.

The school board members — who are, after all, elected to oversee the resources of the district — owe the public a clear explanation of what happened, what is going on, and what this is all going to cost.

The taxpayers of the Riverhead Central School District deserve answers. Enough is enough.

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