The North Salem Central School District announced Monday the hiring of an interim athletic director after a controversial decision to demote Henry Sassone, who held the position for more than 30 years.

At a special Board of Education meeting July 22, the district hired Denise Kiernan, who has more than 20 years of experience as a physical education teacher and director of physical education, most recently as director of health, physical education and athletics in the Tarrytown public schools.

Kiernan has experience with both Section I and Section VIII interscholastic athletic leadership and this year served as the president of the NYSAAA Athletic Administrator Association.

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At the Board of Education's annual reorganization meeting Monday, July 1, dozens of former educators and athletes spoke out against removing Sassone from the position of Athletic Director. Sassone was also not reappointed as the varsity boys basketball coach. 

Since that meeting, many in the community have contacted North Salem News in support of the school's decision to remove Sassone as athletic director, but declined to go on the record for fear of retaliation against their children. 

In a statement, the district's legal counsel would not comment on the coaching appointment but said the district was looking to formalize the position of director of physical education and needed to hire someone with a physical education certification and administrative certification. 

Kiernan has those certifications, along with several others, according to her resume.

Kiernan started in her new role on Monday and will earn $168,000 per year.