Suffolk County Community College paid for report on 'breach of confidentiality' allegations

A lawsuit suit filed in state Supreme Court A lawsuit suit filed in state Supreme Court claims that Suffolk County Community College and its top officials have misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars from a mandatory student activity fee that produces a nearly $4 million a year. Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

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Suffolk County Community College spent $5,000 to hire an outside security consulting firm that has issued a secret report over "breach of confidentiality" allegations at the school.

Trustee Paul Pontieri, who is head of the trustees personnel committee, acknowledged that he unilaterally authorized the hiring of a security firm -- identified by college officials as Alfa Group of Farmingdale -- to investigate the allegations without a board vote. He said he believes the level of money spent did not require a board approval.

The allegations, said Pontieri, were brought to him by college legal counsel Louis Petrizzo in June while he was in charge of day-to-day college operations when president Shaun McKay was on vacation.

Pontieri, who is also mayor of Patchogue Village, declined to identify the individuals cited in the report, but when asked if it involved just trustees or other parts of the college community, he said "a combination of both."

The report was completed about three weeks ago, said Pontieri, adding he has not circulated the report to the entire board but discussed the allegations at an executive session after a trustees meeting Thursday.

Asked if the report's contents require board action, he said that further board discussion is warranted.

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The existence of a report first came to light when college spokesman Drew Biondo acknowledged there is a pending investigation into the allegation of a breach of confidentiality in response to a Newsday inquiry Wednesday. However, Biondo said the report "is part of this confidential personnel matter and cannot be made public."

Later, Biondo in a separate telephone voice message emphasized that the "report is not directed at president McKay."

The security probe is just the latest sign of strain at the three-campus school -- the largest community college in the state system.

The allegations come months after businesswoman Anne Shybunko-Moore, president of the defense firm GSE Dynamics, was ousted as a trustee under a little-known county law that bars board members from missing four meetings in a row without an excused absence.

Shybunko-Moore was later restored to the board.

That controversy arose amid a battle in which McKay lobbied to have trustee board chairwoman Dafny Irizarry replaced, according to sources. McKay went on vacation a day after the flap became public. Irizarry was re-elected unanimously as board chairwoman June 19.

McKay said he was unaware of the breach of confidentiality allegations. Irizarry declined to comment.

Even Thursday, the sniping continued. Irizarry criticized the administration for not including comments from board members, as done in the past, for several major campus events.

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When McKay's invitation earlier in week for President Barack Obama to visit the campus came up, Irizarry urged McKay "to extend another invitation on the part of the president and the board. And maybe that will be more persuasive."

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