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Freeport votes to fire principal John O'Mard, charged with having sex with teen

John O'Mard, principal of J.W. Dodd Middle School

John O'Mard, principal of J.W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport, appears in Nassau County Court before Judge Delligatti in Mineola. (March 22, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Freeport Board of Education voted Thursday to immediately fire John O'Mard, the middle school principal and felon who was charged last month with having sex with a 16-year-old graduate of the school.

The board, in a 4-0 vote, passed a resolution that said O'Mard, 44, of Freeport, did not notify the district's clerk or secretary that he wanted a hearing on pending disciplinary charges within the time frame stipulated in state education law.

The board's resolution said the lack of notification "is deemed a waiver of such a hearing," and the board acted to determine the case and the penalty -- immediate firing.

"This is a personnel matter. We are legally prohibited from sharing any further information regarding this decision," Superintendent Kishore Kuncham said in a statement after the vote. He declined to comment further.

The superintendent posted a notice about the board's firing of O'Mard on the district's website Thursday night.

The action came five weeks after O'Mard's arrest March 20 on four counts of third-degree criminal sexual act, the school district's discovery that he had a criminal record, and the state Department of Education's accusation that he submitted fake fingerprints during a background check almost a decade ago for his employment by the district.

O'Mard pleaded not guilty last month to the sex charge and was released on bail. If convicted, he faces up to 4 years in prison.

His attorney, Ed Jenks, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Since his arrest, he had been "administratively reassigned" pending outcome of the district's investigation and disciplinary charges.

O'Mard's sole job in the district was as principal of J.W. Dodd Middle School. He was hired in 2003 and previously had worked in the New York City schools. His 2012 salary was $173,576, according to the school salary database of the Empire Center for New York State Policy, a nonpartisan research organization.

District officials said they were shocked soon after O'Mard's arrest on the sex charge to learn that he had served almost a year in jail for a 1990 conviction for grand larceny and had been convicted of petty larceny, a misdemeanor, in 1987.

Then, state education officials, in response to questions from Newsday, said O'Mard had submitted false fingerprints during a background check for his employment in Freeport.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice is investigating those allegations.

New York City education officials said last month that they were aware of O'Mard's arrests when the department hired him as a substitute teacher in 1993.Thursday, the school board gathered after posting notice of a special 5 p.m. meeting on the district's website, saying it might immediately adjourn to executive session to discuss a particular personnel matter. The executive session lasted about an hour.

Kuncham, in his statement, said Robert Micucci, who has been interim principal of the middle school since April 3, will continue in that position through June 30. The district has started a search process for a permanent principal, the superintendent said.

O'Mard is an active member of the New York State Teachers' Retirement System. Currently, there is no statute mandating forfeiture of retirement benefits for wrongful acts, officials with the teacher's retirement system said.

For retirement benefits to be forfeited, the New York Legislature would have to enact a statute providing for such forfeiture. While various forfeiture bills have been introduced over the years, none has passed.

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