BOCES principal has felony on record
Case could be dismissed by court in February ’17
KINGSTON >> The recently appointed principal of the Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center was arrested on a felony charge in November 2015 after a domestic incident on eastern Long Island.
Dean Lucera appeared in Southampton Town Court on Wednesday to present proof of his completion of an anger management class, authorities said.
The Board of Education of the Ulster Board of Cooperative Educational Services appointed Lucera in August to head the Career & Technical Center in Port Ewen.
Board members and BOCES Superintendent Charles V. Khoury were aware of the felony criminal mischief charge against Lucera when he was appointed, according to the superintendent and board President Patrick Rausch.
In February, charges against Lucera were adjourned in contemplation of dismissal in the Southampton Town Court and are expected to be dismissed on Feb. 2, 2017, if Lucera “does not otherwise violate the conditions” of the adjournment, Robert Clifford of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said in an email Tuesday.
At the time of his arrest, Lucera was superintendent of the Tuckahoe Common School District on eastern Long Island. He resigned from that district in March, according to The Southampton Press.
Charges against Lucera stem from a domestic incident on Nov. 21, 2015, during which it was alleged “the defendant and the victim engaged in a verbal argument in a restaurant . ... The victim drove the defendant from the restaurant to her home so that he could retrieve his car,” Clifford wrote. “When they arrived at the victim’s home, the argument resumed and the victim left the defendant in her driveway and drove to the Westhampton Police Department to report the incident. She then realized that she had taken the defendant’s car keys with her. When the victim returned home with a police officer to give the defendant his keys, her front door was damaged.”
Clifford said Lucera was ordered to complete a 32week Structured Help Antiviolence Re-education Program “for perpetrators of domestic violence.”
On Wednesday, Lucera’s attorney, Tor Jacob Worsoe Jr., said his client had presented the court with evidence of completion of the program and, on Feb. 2, 2017, “all charges will be dismissed.”
“It’s now just a matter of passing time,” Worsoe said. “In this case, the system worked.”
Reached at his Port Ewen office last week, Lucera said the issue was “resolved” and “there was no credibility to it.”
Rausch said last week that the BOCES board was “fully aware” of the charges when it voted to appoint Lucera in August. He said the superintendent “had a lot of concerns” about Lucera and had vetted the candidate to the board’s satisfaction.
He said the vote to appoint Lucera was 10-1, with Trustee Sue Gilmore voting against the appointment.
“Clearly, if this would stay a felony, the board would have to revisit it because there would be concerns,” Rausch said.
“As a candidate, the man had everything we need to take our program to the next level,” he said. “Our board fully trusts our superintendent.”
Last week, Khoury said he had not reviewed a copy of Lucera’s arrest report prior to recommending his appointment or since. “I did read the police blotter account (in the newspaper) and I thought I read something else that described the incident in quite a bit of detail (likely in the newspapers as well) and numerous other newspaper accounts, all of which I discussed with Mr. Lucera during the review process,” the superintendent wrote in an email.
In a phone interview, Khoury said he knew of Lucera’s previous position on Long island and “checked with a number of colleagues” there, all of whom “attested to his professionalism and demeanor” and “were shocked” by his arrest.
Khoury called the incident “a personal dispute that got picked up by a local newspaper.”
He also said Lucera was hired at a beginning principal’s salary, which he called “a fairly low price point.”
“If I can get somebody at a low price, I will . ... The best person at the lowest price, because it’s the taxpayer’s expense,” Khoury said.
Lucera’s salary is $112,000 a year. He succeeded retired Principal Genna Suraci, who was paid $135,572 in the job, according to the See Through New York website.
Lucera’s salary as superintendent of the Tuckahoe school district was $174,588, according to the website.
Khoury said “probably” about three or four other applicants were considered for the BOCES position, adding Lucera is “doing a fine job.”
“The staff likes him and the kids like him,” he said.
Asked why the August press release announcing Lucera’s appointment and the BOCES website make no mention of Lucera’s tenure in the Tuckahoe district, Khoury said: “We were focusing on his preparations/qualifications for the job that he was filling. ... I believe that we also did not mention that he was the district superintendent of Eastern Suffolk BOCES as well, though both were noted to my BOCES board prior to his hiring.”