Frank Tassone, the Roslyn schools superintendent convicted of stealing millions from his district, says he plans to watch the new HBO film based on his life, “Bad Education.”
The film, written by former Roslyn student Mike Makowsky, features Hugh Jackman as Tassone and Allison Janney as Pamela Gluckin, the Roslyn assistant superintendent for business who also served time for her role in the embezzlement. “Bad Education” airs Saturday at 8 p.m. on HBO.
“I’m afraid of seeing myself portrayed as being a liar and a cheat and a thief — and I was a thief, no question,” Tassone tells life coach Mike Bayer in Tuesday’s episode of “The Coach Mike Podcast,” which is being billed as the first of two parts. The interview marks a rare public appearance from Tassone, who in 2006 was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison for his part in an $11 million larceny scheme. Tassone was released early, in 2010, and is said by authorities to have repaid Roslyn the $2 million he was accused of stealing.
The podcast may not sit well with Roslyn citizens who remember Tassone as the man who turned their school district into one of the nation’s best, only to be exposed for spending public money on his lavish personal expenses. Bayer, author of the book “Best Self: Be You, Only Better,” spends much of the episode trying to help Tassone overcome his feelings of guilt and shame. At one point, Bayer calls Tassone “inspiring” for his willingness to take responsibility for his mistakes.
Tassone, 70, offers some glimpses into his mental state during his time at Roslyn. He says he kept his homosexuality hidden after losing a job opportunity at another school because of it. His habit of spending school money on himself, he says, began with Gluckin, who often waived away his attempts at reimbursement. He says he began to feel “entitled” to the money due to his long work hours. Tassone also says he “encouraged” his longtime partner, Stephen Signorelli, to overcharge Roslyn for a no-bid printing contract. (Signorelli was sentenced to one to three years in prison after pleading guilty to grand larceny).
Shortly before his own arrest, Tassone says, he tried to kill himself by taking pills.
Tassone says a friend told him about the production of “Bad Education” in October after reading about it in Newsday. “I just crumbled,” Tassone says. “I thought, ‘My god, I thought this finally was over.’ It’ll never be over for me. Every day I feel pain.”