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Lindenhurst school hires new principal currently on paid leave from NJ district

Lindenhurst school officials told Team 12 Investigates that they are aware of Michael Plias’ leave of absence and stand by their decision to hire him.

Rachel Yonkunas

Sep 18, 2023, 10:15 PM

Updated 305 days ago


Some parents in Lindenhurst are raising concerns about a new elementary school principal that could be double-dipping. In July, the Lindenhurst Union Free School District hired Michael Plias as the principal of Daniel Street Elementary School.
Team 12 Investigates has learned that Plias is currently on paid administrative leave from his old job in New Jersey. In a separation agreement obtained through a records request, Plias was placed on administrative leave from the Springfield Public School District on July 1, 2023.
He will remain on leave until June 30, 2024. On that date, Plias will resign from the district. He was the principal of the Edward V. Walton Early Childhood Center School. During the 2023-2024 school year, Plias will earn $81,868.50 in salary and unused accumulated sick time from the New Jersey school system.
Meanwhile, the Lindenhurst Union Free School District is paying Plias a $140,000 salary as their new elementary school principal. Parents said they deserve answers into why the district would hire an educator who remains on administrative leave from his former employer.
Lindenhurst school officials told Team 12 Investigates that they are aware of Plias’ leave of absence and stand by their decision to hire him.
They said his leave of absence from Springfield involves a claim regarding his residency while working in New Jersey. State law there requires its teachers to live in New Jersey.
District officials said they were advised that Plias did not violate any laws because he began transitioning a move to Long Island several months before the law took effect in September 2011. They said he told them he had been making the nearly two-hour commute from Long Island to Springfield, New Jersey ever since.
District officials said they began the screening process of Plias on June 23, followed by interviews on June 28 and July 6. He was appointed principal at Daniel Street Elementary School less than two weeks after Springfield placed him on paid leave.
“We have been further advised that the separation has nothing to do with his professional responsibilities or performance as an administrator nor are there any allegations of misconduct that we are aware of,” Interim Superintendent of Schools Vincent Caravana said in a statement. “We stand by our decision to hire him as we believe he is the best qualified candidate for this position. Mr. Plias underwent a thorough vetting process, passed all necessary background checks in accordance with State law and was supported by several positive references.”

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