The mother of a girl Shelter Island Police said was sexually abused by a town Highway Department worker said Thursday the school board is not moving on her request to transfer her daughter to another district.
Deborah Ross said since charges of third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child were brought against Jeffrey Starzee February 22, her daughter has not been back to Shelter Island School. Ms. Ross said it is traumatic for the girl to return to class.
“They [the School Board] don’t want to come up with the money to tuition her out,” Ms. Ross said, meaning if her daughter had to transfer to another district because of the situation the Shelter Island district would have to pay her tuition.
Superintendent Michael Hynes said he couldn’t comment on the situation.
Ms. Ross told Newsday she’s angry her daughter’s life is being interrupted while Mr. Starzee is allowed to continue to work for the Highway Department while his case is pending.
In response to a question whether Mr. Starzee should be suspended from his job with or without pay prior to a possible conviction, Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. said, “You’ll have to ask the Town Board.”
Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty couldn’t be reached Thursday. He’s quoted by Newsday as saying Mr. Starzee wouldn’t face any disciplinary action unless he were convicted.
Highway Department workers aren’t covered by the New York State Department of Civil Service here, but its policy on disciplining an indicted employee would depend on whether the charges reflect unfavorably upon the moral character or fitness of the employee or brings discredit to the public service.
Representatives of several other Long Island towns have said circumstances similar to Mr. Starzee’s case would merit suspension.
Mr. Starzee, 47, an 18-year highway department veteran, is due back in court on Monday. The Reporter is awaiting a call from Judge Mary-Faith Westervelt and Brian DeSesa, Mr. Starzee’s attorney, about what is likely to transpire during that session.
Mr. DeSesa previously said he was looking forward “to our day in court,” confident Mr. Starzee would be acquitted on both charges.