The Northern Westchester Examiner

Parents, Students Seek Return of Hen Hud HighTeacher

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A petition with nearly 250 signatures was recently submitted to the Hendrick Hudson Board of Education calling for the return of a popular engineering teacher who apparently resigned following a junior class trip to New York City in March during which a handful of teachers reportedly left students unsupervised.

Several parents who signed the petition and some students confronted the Board of Education at a June 25 meeting over the departure of Everton Henriques, while others also expressed support for English teacher Kristine Zulla, who also left the district at the end of the school year.

Superintendent of Schools Joseph Hochreiter confirmed the district had “a number of resignations” but maintained “the board hasn’t terminated anyone. No one was terminated for anything. Nobody was let go.”

Several sources told The Northern Westchester Examiner that a group of teachers on the trip allegedly went to a restaurant to enjoy a meal and some alcoholic beverages. The administrator who reportedly was on the trip and gave teachers permission to go to a restaurant, high school Assistant Principal Joseph DiGiovanni, has left Hendrick Hudson to accept a position in the Rye City School District.

Stanojka Lipovac and her husband, Milo, spearheaded the petition effort to bring back Henriques. She insisted the board, Hochreiter and other administrators should resign for being unable to lead the district.

“You’re punishing our children, you’re punishing our school and you’re punishing our community,” Lipovac remarked. “If you’re looking to scapegoat someone then shame on you. This man doesn’t deserve that. This teacher is doing nothing but helping our students grow and learn. This is your shining star. This is somebody you need to show everyone.”

Maryjo Barry said Henriques helped her son, who is entering his junior year, enjoy going to school.

“It was an absolute breath of fresh air to have a teacher that my son came home and adored who pushed him, a teacher who stayed with him after school and give him motivation and gave him focus,” she said. “It’s like stabbing you in the foot. What are you doing?”

Jake Avellino, who is entering his senior year, said he learned more from his engineering class with Henriques than any other class in high school.

“The teacher that we’re losing changed who I am and how I see my future in a very positive way,” he said. “We’re losing somebody like that for unclear reasons. We should be fighting to keep teachers like that.”

Board President Mary-Pat Briggi explained the board was bound by personnel and privacy laws not to divulge the reasons for departing school employees but stressed the engineering curriculum in the high school would continue.

“This decision was not made lightly and we gave this much discussion,” she said. “To suggest that this board does not care about the children and the program is insulting. To suggest that someone did this arbitrarily is worse than insulting. It’s unfair.”

Lipovac did not appreciate Briggi’s remarks, firing back, “What I found terribly insulting is you’re giving us a song and dance. You are forcing someone out who is exceptional. I don’t care if you’re insulted. You’re insulting us with your behavior.”

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