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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