fh boe 022515At a packed meeting, above, the board of ed voted to reinstate teacher Basil Henning, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


basil henning 2014Fair Haven’s school board reinstated a sixth-grade Spanish teacher Wednesday night, 10 days after he was placed on administrative leave over crass satirical web videos in which he appeared.

Following a recommendation by Superintendent Nelson Ribon, the board ended the administrative leave of Basil Henning, a tenured teacher whose paid removal, announced in an unusual Sunday night email to parents, was prompted by at least one parent’s complaints.

Henning is free to return to work Thursday morning, though an investigation continues, Ribon told redbankgreen following the meeting, at the Knollwood School.

Ribon declined to say why the investigation was continuing.

Henning could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

The videos that prompted resident Melissa Neczesney to complain to Ribon appear to have been made before Henning was hired as a teacher at the Knollwood School at the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

In several of the videos, Henning plays a garrulous, Jets-obsessed sports fan who spews lewd comments about women and sexual gratification in what appears to be an exaggerated New York accent.

Neczesny, who told redbankgreen she was “shocked beyond words” and “skeeved out” by the videos, asked Ribon to remove her daughter from Henning’s class. Several days later, on February 15, Ribon announced Henning’s leave in an email to the community without saying what prompted it or identifying Henning by name.

“Based on information obtained at that point, and in order to protect the rights of the employee, as well as the health and safety of our children, appropriate action was taken,” Ribon told a standing-room-only audience in the Knollwood School media center Wednesday. “While the investigation continues, we are satisfied enough to end the administrative leave.”

Ribon declined to comment further.

The videos have since been switched to private setting on YouTube, rendering them unplayable.

Neczesney claimed the videos violated district policy governing staff members’ use of social media. The policy says that staffers “shall not use social networking sites to post any materials of a sexually graphic nature.” Here’s the full text: FH BOE SOCIAL NETWORKING

Henning’s removal, however, found little support in town, as dozens of parents vouched for his personal qualities and his dedication as a teacher in comments on redbankgreen‘s initial story and in a closed Fair Haven Moms Facebook page. Others noted that he was playing a fictional character in the videos.

Only one audience member asked about the matter Wednesday night, to clarify the date on which Henning’s reinstatement was effective.