Jessica Bader, who previously went by the name Jessica Zimbler,...

Jessica Bader, who previously went by the name Jessica Zimbler, is seen in the 2005 East Meadow High School yearbook. Credit: East Meadow High School

The former principal of James H. Vernon School pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge Thursday in connection with falsely answering questions on job applications submitted to Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District. 

Jessica Bader, 52, of Nesconset, was sentenced to a conditional discharge following her plea to offering a false instrument for filing in the second degree.

“It’s a one-year conditional discharge,” said Bader’s attorney, Joseph Carbone, of Farmingdale. “It's not even probation. So she just has to stay out of trouble” for one year.

The initial charges, six counts in all and three of which were felony counts, were brought by the Nassau County district attorney’s office in April.

Bader falsely answered “no” on applications asking if she had ever resigned from a position as an alternative to charges or termination, District Attorney Anne Donnelly said then. Bader also falsely answered “no” on whether her professional certificate had ever been suspended by a government agency.

Bader, an English teacher at East Meadow High School from 1999 to 2005, was asked to resign or face disciplinary action for engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a student, according to Donnelly.

The state Department of Education suspended Bader’s teaching certificate for four years in December 2007, records showed.

Nassau prosecutors said Bader checked “no” when she applied for a position as the director of humanities at Oyster Bay-East Norwich schools in 2022, and later as principal at the third-to-sixth grade Vernon School in 2023. Bader submitted her resignation as principal of that school last September. 

Donnelly’s office declined to comment Friday.

Carbone said Bader filed the form incorrectly because she had wrong advice from a former attorney who told her she didn’t have to check yes on the box once she got reinstated. The suspension, he said, resulted from a kiss between his client and an 18-year-old.

“To charge her with felonies, to have it cost her career, to me, was a little excessive for something that happened over 20 years ago that she served a four-year penalty for,” he said. “I think that's completely disproportionate punishment for the misstep that she made.” 

The state-designated hearing officer, who recommended the four-year suspension in 2007, wrote in her report that “it was a gross error in judgment to believe that it is appropriate for any teacher to kiss or fondle a student in a classroom setting, whether or not the student was in a classroom taught by that teacher or even if that student has technically reached the age of majority.”

Bader was previously known as Jessica Zimbler. She still holds a permanent certificate as a school district administrator, issued in 2003, and another as an English teacher in grades 7-12, issued in 1997, according to the state education department.

The department said it takes allegations of misconduct against educators extremely seriously but does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations to protect the fairness and integrity of its processes.

Even though her certificates are still valid, Carbone said the highly publicized case will most likely mean Bader will not teach or work as an administrator again.

“She's done a fantastic job everywhere she's gone,” he said. “This incident is going to hamper her ability to ever get a job in the teaching profession, which it shouldn't, but it will.” 

Oyster Bay-East Norwich schools Superintendent Francesco Ianni said Friday the district does not comment on matters of personnel.

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