Lawrence Woodmere Academy headmaster steps down

Alan Bernstein gone after former student accuses teacher of 'inappropriate behavior'

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Alan Bernstein, who was headmaster of Lawrence Woodmere Academy in Woodmere for 14 years, is reportedly no longer heading the private school after the New York Post published the first-person account of a former student’s “inappropriate relationship” with an LWA teacher.

Bernstein, who lives in the same Five Towns community where LWA is located, was replaced by Barbra Feldman, who is listed as part of the school's administrative team and is the summer camp director. An email was sent to school parents on Jan. 25, according to the Post. Feldman has been with LWA since 2010 and has a bachelor's from Brandeis University and a law degree from Hoftsra Law School, according to information on LWA's website.

Samantha Farber, now 25, told the Post that though the relationship with her one-time male teacher was not sexual, the experience “haunted her for years.” According to Farber, the relationship was flirtatious and involved a series of notes and emails that, as an adult, she realizes were inappropriate of the teacher to have written.

Farber’s revelations come on the heels of the arrest former teacher Daniel McMenamin, who was charged on Oct. 18 with sexual assault. According to Nassau County police, McMenamin, 33, of Valley Stream, allegedly had a sexual relationship with another unidentified female student that began when the girl was 14 and ended in July 2017.

McMenamin was charged with three counts of second-degree criminal sexual act, three counts of second-degree rape, 24 counts of third-degree criminal sexual act and endangering the welfare of a child. He is free on bail, and his next court date is Feb. 15.

Marathon Strategies, a Manhattan-based public relations firm, emailed this statement to the Herald on Sunday on behalf of LWA. "The Lawrence Woodmere Academy puts the well-being of our students  first. Any inappropriate contact between teachers and students is  unacceptable and has no place in any school. As such, the individuals  referenced in news reports were no longer employed at our school.  “New leadership is in place and we worked with an independent third party to develop additional training and protocols to help prevent  unacceptable behavior from occurring. We are deeply committed to providing a safe, supportive and quality learning experience for our  students.”

Not long after the Herald reported on McMenamin’s arrest, two former students emailed the newspaper. Both declined to be identified. One former LWA student and volunteer wrote: “… it does not sit well with me that an equally horrible part of this story has not been relayed to the media ... Not only was the sudden departure of the teacher two years ago questionable to say the least, but the pretentious claims by the school that they are doing all they can to cooperate with the D.A’s office are nothing short of a panicked cover up in the wake of such disastrous press.”

The person was referring to Lloyd Weinstein’s comment when the Herald asked the Syosset lawyer representing LWA about the McMenamin arrest. “Lawrence Woodmere Academy does not condone or tolerate any inappropriate conduct,” Weinstein said, noting that the school was cooperating with the Nassau district attorney’s office.

Another former student wrote: "The news [of McMenamin's arrest] that broke today was not a surprise to the faculty or any former/current students. It was common knowledge to us that this had occurred. I enrolled in Lawrence Woodmere Academy in 2015. At this time there were also rumors that [another] teacher had engaged in inappropriate behavior with a student.” The former student questioned whether law enforcement had been contacted in timely fashion.