The James H. Vernon School is located at 880 Oyster...

The James H. Vernon School is located at 880 Oyster Bay Road in East Norwich.  Credit: Nicole Bartoline

A principal who was removed from the James H. Vernon school in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich district in late September resigned at a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

The resignation of Jessica Bader, who was named the principal of the third-to-sixth-grade school in July, was accepted by the district’s board. Martin Nelson, a former acting principal of the school, was named interim principal.

On Sept. 28, superintendent Francesco Ianni wrote to the community that Bader “will be away from the building for some time."

“My main priority is to alleviate any concerns that you may have regarding the day-to-day operation of the James H. Vernon School and to reassure you that ALL students will continue to learn in the most educationally sound and safe environment,” Ianni wrote.

Bader could not immediately be reached Wednesday. The vote to accept her resignation was unanimous.

At Tuesday's board meeting, Ianni said the resignation had “had nothing to do with any issue with our students or staff.

“One of the issues that has been raised is the manner in which the school district hires, disciplines or terminates staff members in the school district. It is important to know that as the superintendent of schools, I am not at liberty to discuss personnel information,” he said.

He did explain that all hiring procedures undertaken by the district when it hired Bader were followed and that the district relies on “the applicant's truthfulness in providing the required information for the posted position.

“ … In the event that additional information is provided to the school district concerning the hiring of a particular staff member, it is my responsibility to report to the Board of Education and handle the specific personnel issue at hand,” he said. “ … I understand that this fact of not being able to discuss information is upsetting some individuals of the community.”

In a letter to the community on July 17, Bader wrote that she was leaving her position as the district’s director of humanities to become principal of the school. She said at the time that she was honored to be entrusted with the responsibility of leading “such a vibrant and esteemed institution.”

According to public documents from the district, Bader’s salary when she was appointed principal in July was $162,000 a year.

According to a notice posted when she was named principal, Bader replaced Vernon’s former principal, Valerie Vacchio, who retired at the end of the 2022-23 school year. She had been appointed humanities director in May 2022. Before coming to Oyster Bay, Bader was the assistant principal of George J. Ryan Middle School 216 in Queens for nine years. In addition, she served as a literacy coach and a staff developer, according to the notice.

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