Hiring practices at Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District questioned after revelations about ex-principal's past
Parents are raising more questions about the hiring process at the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District. Their concerns follow a Team 12 Investigation that revealed the former principal of James H. Vernon School had a sexual relationship with a high school student while she was a teacher at her previous district.
The relationship happened in 2004 and 2005 while Bader was a teacher in the East Meadow School District. At the time, she went by Jessica Zimbler.
Bader’s teaching certificate was suspended as a result in 2007, according to a scathing New York State Education Department investigation, and the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District has not said whether it knew any of this before hiring her.
Team 12 Investigates obtained Bader’s resume and job application for the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District through an open records request. A look at her resume shows Bader left out her time at East Meadow schools and she answered “no” to a question that asked whether her certificate had ever been suspended.
News 12 asked the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District about its hiring policy. They had their public relations firm respond that they have no comment. After a little digging, Team 12 Investigates obtained a copy of the district’s policy manual on its website.
It states that the Board of Education can create advisory subcommittees, but it is the superintendent’s responsibility to make the final personnel recommendations to the board - which then votes on the hiring.
The New York State Education Department does the fingerprinting and criminal background checks. However, in this case, the student was 18 years old and no criminal charges were ever filed.
Parents now want answers into who was responsible for verifying whether Bader’s license had been suspended or not.
“It is the responsibility of the superintendent and the Board of Education to make sure that that information is accurate before they are hired,” a parent stated at a school board meeting after Bader resigned from the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District.
Bader was removed from her post at the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District barely two months into the new school year and abruptly resigned in October. She had been with the district since 2022 as director of Humanities for grades K-12.
Michael Cohen, former superintendent of the Brentwood School District, said any information on a candidate’s job application can be easily fact-checked by districts - it just takes a bit of work.
“You have to check. It’s work, it’s not fun, it’s being totally diligent,” Cohen said. “You can do it formally by making calls to superintendents. You can do it informally. You can call union presidents, and again, on Long Island in particular, everybody knows everybody. You can find in most cases somebody who has worked in a particular district without too much difficulty.”