Hen Hud English Teacher Fired For Distributing Marijuana

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Former Hendrick Hudson High School English teacher Tom Oliva, shown in a yearbook, was dismissed for possessing and distributing marijuana.
Former Hendrick Hudson High School English teacher Tom Oliva, shown in a yearbook, was dismissed for possessing and distributing marijuana.

MONTROSE, N.Y. — A Hendrick Hudson High School English teacher was formally found guilty of possessing and distributing marijuana on school grounds and was dismissed at a special meeting of the school board Thursday evening.

The teacher, Tom Oliva, was dismissed almost as soon as the Hendrick Hudson Board of Education received the decision from a state administrative law judge, Interim Superintendent Brian Monahan said. Oliva could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

A New York State Police investigation into marijuana distribution among district employees was initiated in February 2012 by then-Superintendent Daniel McCann. State police Investigator Brian Hoff said about 10 teachers were interviewed. State police declined to press charges against Oliva at that time.

Monahan said he could not comment on investigations or possible actions that might be taken against other district employees, calling it a "personnel matter." No children were involved, he said.

"The decision came very recently, and, frankly, the board held a special meeting because — once the decision was made that he would be terminated — the board acted because they could stop paying him," said Monahan.

Oliva had been on paid classroom-leave since February 2012, working "in a district building doing curriculum work but not working with students," said Monahan. 

The decision was part of a hearing process known as a 3020A, or a Tenured Teacher Hearing. According to the New York State Education Department, "Tenured educators have the right to retain their positions and may only be terminated if there is 'just cause.'" The charges against Oliva are not criminal, and therefore do not have misdemeanor or felony degrees attached, as criminal charges would.

The reportedly popular English teacher worked at Hen Hud for about 10 years and taught before working at Hen Hud. Oliva also ran a film appreciation club.

"I think there will be people who are disappointed in what happened because again, he was a good teacher who made some bad choices. ... I'm sure students and parents will be disappointed. I think, frankly, all of us are disappointed," said Monahan.

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Comments (10)

I also think it was handled well and as openly as possible. Once the District was free to do so, it released information. I am told that an email was even sent out to the parents telling them. That's good communication!

What about the staff that was buying from him, our schools are in drug free zones should not these staff members be discplined? What would the penalties be for a student found selling or buying drugs on school grounds? For other staff and this so called "good" teacher doing this on school grounds shows a complete lack of respect for the district, students, and people in our community.

So did these illicit transactions happen in a "drug free" zone or the "gun free" zone of the school?

A victory for the district. The take-home message? Rules are rules..even for tenured teachers. Hope we got our money's worth while he was on paid suspension.

Good riddance. So glad to see the District taking the situation seriously, following the proper protocol, and getting rid of this despicable excuse for an educator.

This is certainly not a "black eye" for the district. In fact, it is an example of exactly how this type of situation should play out. There was an accusation, there were impartial hearings and most importantly there was a presumption of innocence until he was found "guilty" for an impartial hearing officer. He was afforded the right to counsel.

Had the district revealed anymore information, it would have compromised its ability to move forward with the charges it preferred against him. Additionally, it would have opened the district to liability for infringing on the teachers rights.

The district, the Board of Education and its legal counsel should be applauded for the way in which this was handled.

Sadly, Mr. Oliva was so full of himself up until the end that he fervently believed he would beat the charges and return to HHHS. His decision ultimately, will cost him his career. Unless of course he moves to Amsterdam, Colorado or Washington State. LOL

This is not a black eye for the district. They were legally not allowed to comment until now. They handled it professionally. I agree with fedupinny that it is sad.

I think this was handled as it should have been. What could the district have told us prior to this decision other than perhaps he was being paid and doing administrative work nor do I think it would have or should have changed the outcome. The sad thing here is he was a good teacher but unfortunately he made a poor choice and paid the price with his career.

This is yet another "black eye" for the district. The students loved this teacher. One major problem is the board/district hiding under the "we can't discuss this matter" . Once again, there wasn't good communication with the tax payers about this matter. We should have been kept up- to-date in a professional way.. Instead, all we have to go on is rumors and here say.