Jessica Bader’s secret probably led to departure from James H. Vernon School


Jessica Bader’s departure in October from the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District as the new principal of James H. Vernon School and the potential reason for it has made national news.

An investigation shared last week by News 12 revealed that Bader had dated an East Meadow High School student for a year while working there as a teacher in 2004 leading to the loss of her teaching license.

The EMSD learned of the affair after the student’s mother shared emails with the district and the New York State Department of Education found further evidence from cell phone conversations between the student and Bader. Because the student was 18 and the relationship was consensual, Bader did not face criminal charges. She was assigned to administrative work and resigned five days later from her position at EMSD. After an investigation by the state’s education department Bader lost her teaching certificate in 2007 for four years.

The EMSD did not respond for comment by press time.

There are repercussions for teachers, administrators and certified school personnel who lack integrity. Complaints can be filed by anyone with a superintendent, but also with the state’s education department, where a separate investigation is conducted. Upon completion, a recommendation is made to the State Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching where a decision is made whether a formal administrative hearing is necessary. If the hearing goes forward, and it’s found there was a lack of integrity, penalties are imposed, including the suspension of a teaching certificate.

“Her defense appeared to primarily be that the relationship with the student was not inappropriate because it was consensual, that the student was not a minor and that the young man was not a student in her classroom,” wrote Patricia Rodriguez, the NYSED hearing officer on the case. “It was a gross error in judgment to believe that it is appropriate for any teacher to kiss or fondle a student in a classroom setting, whether or not the student was in a classroom taught by that teacher or even if that student has technically reached the age of majority.”

When Bader applied for a job in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District her resume did not include her employment at East Meadow High School.

Francesco Ianni, superintendent at OBENSD would not say whether Bader was questioned about the gap in employment on her resume during her interviews, of which there were many, in compliance with the district’s rigorous hiring process.

A search was done for her history on the internet by the district, her former employer was called, and a check was performed on results of her fingerprint process, which is performed by the NYSED to confirm she did not have a criminal record.

“When someone applies, we always ask them questions and assume they are honest with their responses,” Ianni said. “New York State (Education Department) has a website you can verify if a person applying has a teaching certificate.”

According to J.P. O’Hare, spokesman for the state’s education department, the website,, also provides whether a teacher has undergone disciplinary action.

“You can see the history, it shows if an action was taken on an educator’s license if it was suspended or revoked,” he said. “It will show where they received their degree and what they are certified to teach but no resume is on file.”

O’Hare could not say whether Bader’s loss of her license for four years was customary for her infraction. But there are steps involved to obtain a new license. The educator would need to complete a course of therapy or treatment first, then a NYSED review would ensue.

Bader was an appealing hire, bringing much experience, having worked for nearly a decade as an assistant principal at George J. Ryan Middle School 216 in Manhattan. She earned two master’s degrees from Queens College, City University of New York, one in educational administration and one in educational supervision.

She was first hired by the district in 2022 as the director of humanities for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Ianni said he was impressed by her work. “Working with us as the director of humanities she did tremendous work at the curriculum level, working very well with the staff, and also was just very, very nice,” Ianni had said in September, before learning of Bader’s transgression. “Ms. Bader also established an amazing rapport with the students. That’s one thing that kind of sticks out because sometimes directors can be a little removed from students, but she found the time to connect with them.”

Bader’s goal was to make Vernon a Blue Ribbon school, a touted national program recognizing public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
Ianni said hiring practices have now changed as a result of the Bader incident.

“We learn from every situation,” he said. “In her case there were no red flags so there was no reason to go deeper. But it’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback. The steps we had in place were followed and at no point throughout the entire time were the students in Oyster Bay involved or in danger.”

Moving forward, the district will go deeper when investigating a potential hire, even if there are no red flags, Ianni said.

“Some are sensationalizing our situation, but they fail to bring up the fact that once the district had the information, we acted in a prompt manner and we did not miss a beat,” Ianni said. “Is every process in every organization perfect? I doubt anyone can put their hand on the Bible and say their process is bulletproof.”