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Jessica Bader, ex-James H. Vernon School principal, charged with falsifying

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The former principal of James H. Vernon School, whose teaching certificate was suspended for four years for engaging in what officials called an inappropriate relationship with a student, was charged Monday in Nassau County District Court with falsifying employment applications submitted to the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District.

Jessica Bader, 52, falsely answered “no” on applications that asked if she had ever resigned from a position as an alternative to charges or termination, according to Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly.

Bader, of Nesconset, also falsely answered “no” when asked if the applicant’s professional certificate had ever been suspended by a government agency, Donnelly said.

Bader, previously known as Jessica Zimbler, pleaded not guilty Monday at an arraignment before Nassau District Court Judge Jaclene Agazarian.

Bader is charged with three counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and three counts of second-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

She was released on her own recognizance and was ordered to return to court on April 11. If convicted, Bader faces up to 1 1/3 to four years in prison.

Bader, an English teacher at East Meadow High School from 1999 to 2005, was asked to resign or face disciplinary action for engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a student, Donnelly said. The New York State Department of Education suspended Bader’s teaching certificate for four years in December 2007.

Bader’s attorney, Joseph Carbone, of Farmingdale, said the suspension resulted from a kiss between his client and an 18-year-old, when Bader was in her early 30s. 

Nassau prosecutors said she checked “no” when she applied for a position as the director of humanities at Oyster Bay-East Norwich schools in 2022, and later as principal at the third-grade to six-grade Vernon School in 2023.

Carbone said she responded “no” because a former lawyer told her the suspension would be expunged from her professional record.

Carbone said kissing the student was “inappropriate” but argued Bader had served her suspension and has excelled as an educator throughout her career. He said the criminal charges will make it difficult for her to find work as a teacher or administrator and are vastly disproportionate to the accused’s alleged infractions.

“She has already been punished pretty severely,” said Carbone.

Bader worked at schools in Brooklyn and Queens after her teaching certificate was reinstated. She served as an assistant principal at a Queens middle school.

A spokeswoman for Oyster Bay-East Norwich schools declined to comment on the charges filed against Bader. 

In October, Oyster Bay-East Norwich Superintendent Francesco Ianni made a Part 83 referral to the state Education Department’s Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability, alleging Bader “has committed acts that raise a reasonable question as to her moral character based on Ms. Bader’s material misrepresentation of employment history,” Ianni wrote in a complaint.

Newsday obtained the complaint through a Freedom of Information Law request.

A state Department of Education official said the department could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation into the matter. 

Under Part 83 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, the state investigates allegations of lack of “good moral character” lodged against certified educators to determine whether the educator has the “good moral character” to retain the certificate.

Ianni did not specify how he found out but wrote it “came to my attention” that Bader had worked at another district, namely East Meadow.

“Upon hearing of the information in September, I met with Ms. Bader and she stated that her license was suspended after resigning from a previous district and admitted that she was not truthful in her past employment history, including but not limited to her license being suspended,” he wrote.

Bader submitted her resignation as principal of the Vernon School on Sept. 27. The next day, Ianni wrote to the community that Bader “will be away from the building for some time.”

The school board approved her resignation on Oct. 10. At that time, Ianni did not give further explanation other than to say that it “had nothing to do with any issue with our students or staff” and that the district relied on “the applicant’s truthfulness in providing the required information for the posted position.”

Ianni made the Part 83 referral on Oct. 20. 

Read More: Jessica Bader, ex-James H. Vernon School principal, charged with falsifying

2024-04-02 21:12:04

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