Bellport High teacher removed from duties

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Jonathan Elsalam, 26, an assistant football coach and global history teacher at Bellport High School, has been removed from those duties pending the completion of an investigation into undisclosed allegations against him, district officials said Friday.

Newsday has been unable to reach Elsalam at his listed home address in Ridge.

Bellport High is part of the South Country school system in southern Brookhaven Town.

Howard Koenig, who is South Country's interim superintendent, said in a phone interview that an investigation is under way and would be completed soon, but declined to discuss details of the allegations, citing privacy and legal issues.

Koenig added that Elsalam, who was hired by the district in 2008, remains an employee while the inquiry is conducted.

"Allegations like this are something we take very seriously," Koenig said. "I have launched an internal investigation. Until that's completed, I can't comment on anything."

Koenig said the matter has not been referred to Suffolk police.

South Country's powerhouse football program has been marred by recent allegations. Six months ago, the former district superintendent, Joseph Cipp Jr., resigned in the wake of what a special investigator called a grade-fixing scandal. Cipp, who had Elsalam on his coaching staff, was the winningest high-school football coach in Suffolk, before becoming an administrator.

Cipp was accused of pressuring subordinates to change a star athlete's grades so the student could be admitted to Syracuse University and play on its football team. Both Cipp and the student, Ryan Sloan, have repeatedly denied the allegations.

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