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Michael Tweed, ousted by Glen Cove schools, regains job, gets back pay

Glen Cove High School in Glen Cove. (April

Glen Cove High School in Glen Cove. (April 6, 2013) Credit: Ian J. Stark

The former administrator at the Glen Cove City Schools who alerted his superiors to grade tampering at the high school and then was denied tenure returned to work Monday following an arbitrator’s order last month.

Michael Tweed, coordinator of pupil personnel services at the district until June 30, 2014, will get back pay and benefits totaling nearly $250,000 under the ruling, his lawyer said.

Superintendent Maria Rianna said it would be inappropriate for the district to discuss matters of personnel or active litigation.

Tweed, married with two children, did not return calls for comment, but his lawyer said he “feels vindicated” by the decision.

The arbitrator who oversaw one of two complaints Tweed filed against the district — the other, a federal lawsuit claiming he was fired for being a whistle-blower, was scheduled to play itself out in court this summer — said the Plainview man was not properly evaluated before his dismissal, in violation of his contract. The only appropriate resolution was “a make-whole remedy,” the arbitrator found in December.

Glen Cove faced two cheating scandals in the 2011-12 school year, one at the high school and one at the elementary level.

In the high school incident, a student’s failing Regents grade was changed to passing. Tweed alerted then-superintendent Joe Laria about the switch.

Laria notified the state, as is required.

Tweed, who had previously been given positive employment evaluations, was denied tenure under Rianna, hired as superintendent in the summer of 2013.

Laria, reached by phone, praised Tweed’s work.

“He was an asset and brought some innovative thinking to the guidance department in terms of college placements and essay writing,” Laria said. “I found him to be conscientious, very honest, with a high degree of integrity.”

Louis Zocchia, special assistant to the superintendent of the East Islip School District, worked at Glen Cove for two years, concluding as interim superintendent for the seven weeks after Laria left.

“I would have recommended him for tenure,” Zocchia said of Tweed. “I hate to see good people not respected for who they are. He has the kids’ best interest at heart, 100 percent.”

Two administrators and six teachers were fined a total of $144,522 in connection with both cheating scandals, state records show.

Rianna said the district has since taken great measures to be in compliance with testing regulations and guidelines.

“Officials from the New York State Education Department have observed our process over the years and have commended us on our practices,” she said in a statement Thursday.

Art Scheuermann, general counsel with the School Administrators Association of New York State, said Tweed had been out of work since his firing, though he had diligently looked for a new job.

Scheuermann said his status as a whistle-blower made it nearly impossible for him to find employment.

U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler was scheduled to hear Tweed’s whistle-blower case June 24.

Tweed earned roughly $150,000 annually when he was fired, his lawyer said.

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