District leaders unfazed by or unaware of arrest
School district leaders interviewed about a felony charge being leveled against an Ulster BOCES principal before he was hired either were unconcerned about the matter or said they were unaware of it before the hiring occurred.
Dean Lucera came on board in August as principal of the Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center in Port Ewen. Last week, the Freeman reported Lucera had been charged with felony criminal mischief last November after a domestic incident on eastern Long Island, where he lived at the time.
The case involved an argument between Lucera and a woman in a restaurant and later at her home, as well as damage to the front door of the home, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.
Ulster BOCES board members and Superintendent Charles V. Khoury were aware of the charge when Lucera was appointed, according to the superintendent and board President Patrick Rausch. In February, the charges 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, the Suffolk DA’s office said.
Kingston school district Superintendent Paul Padalino said he knew about the matter prior to the Freeman’s story appearing and was not troubled by the hiring.
“I think that he (Khoury) and the board have their
procedures and they did their due diligence, and I think if they’re comfortable with the new principal, I trust their judgement and their process,” Padalino said.
Padalino said if such a candidate was up for a job in Kingston, the district would take police records into account.
“Our standard practice would be to speak to the individual and request that all court documents and papers be provided to us as it moves through the court,” he said.
Saugerties school district Superintend Seth Turner said he was not told about Lucera’s arrest, or even his hiring by BOCES, until after the fact.
“I learned of the hiring after it had already taken place from the BOCES board of ed,” he said.
Turner said he could not comment further about Lucera without having more information.
Ellenville school district Superintendent Lisa Wiles spoke similarly.
“I don’t know about this, and I’d have to see documents myself,” she said. “I haven’t heard anything.”
Highland school district Assistant Superintendent Sarah Dudley-Lemek, filling in for Superintendent Deborah Haab, also said she did not of the matter ahead of time.
The superintendents of the Oneora and Rondout Valley school districts did not return a reporter’s calls.
Lucera was superintendent of the Tuckahoe Common School District on eastern Long Island at the time of his arrest. The August press release about Lucera’s local hiring that was issued by Ulster BOCES made no mention of his tenure in that district.