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Nonprofit funds internet hot spots for Manhasset schools, superintendent says

Acting Superintendent Gaurav Passi gives a presentation during

Acting Superintendent Gaurav Passi gives a presentation during a Manhasset school board meeting on Aug. 26. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

The Manhasset school board received $1,500 in donations for the rental of internet hot spots Tuesday while the district restores its computer network that officials temporarily shut down after detecting an unauthorized service disruption a week ago.

During a school board meeting, acting Superintendent Gaurav Passi said the funds given by the Manhasset Tower Foundation, a not-for-profit created by members of the Manhasset community to provide grants to local public schools, will pay for 50 hot spots.

"We want to reassure the board and reassure the community that we’re bringing all resources to bear to resolve this situation in a methodical manner," Passi said during the meeting. Passi added the "classroom instruction may look different, it certainly has not stopped," but did not elaborate.

The hot spots will provide "limited internet access to our main attendance, health offices and teacher work areas," he said. The priority was given to those areas so teachers can function "in terms of health and safety and also in terms of web-based tools."

In a Sept. 14 message to parents, Passi wrote that while the investigation is ongoing the district has to "temporarily shut down our entire District network, including email services, out of an abundance of caution." In-person instruction would continue, he wrote.

Meanwhile, during the public comment portion of the meeting, four people inquired about the status of Vincent Butera, the current superintendent, who remains on leave over allegations of sexual harassment.

School board president Pat Aitken said they could not comment on the matter.

Butera, who has been the district’s superintendent since 2017, has been on leave since May over an investigation that found he had violated the district's sexual harassment policy. In August, Passi was named as acting superintendent and will keep his assistant duties as the district’s head of curriculum, instruction, and personnel.

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