Seven years after a Sachem North High School student pleaded guilty to a charge of hacking school computers, a federal judge in Central Islip has dismissed claims by his mother that the district had forced her son to do computer security work for years without pay.
Former student Matthew Calicchio and parents Sandra and Michael Calicchio had argued in a 2014 federal lawsuit that Matthew Calicchio, then 17, was forced into what amounted to involuntary servitude by district officials, including then-Principal John Dolan and assistant Principal Andrew Larson. According to a revised 2015 complaint, between 2010 and 2013, Matthew Calicchio repeatedly was taken out of class and lunch to do the work, warned not to tell his parents and told the FBI would raid his house if he did not comply. The complaint asked for damages in excess of $75,000. Sandra Calicchio lives in Chester, Massachusetts, according to court records.
Lawyers for the district and its officials said in filings that the claims were false, and in March a federal magistrate recommended dismissal because Sandra Calicchio, who represented herself, had skipped multiple court-ordered conferences. Judge Denis Hurley agreed and on April 5 ordered the dismissal. He also ordered Mathew Calicchio and Michael Calicchio to discontinue the suit or file a status report within two weeks.
Scott Lockwood, the lawyer representing the father and the son, did not respond to a request for comment. Lawyers for the school district did not respond. Dolan and Larson, now principal at the high school, did not respond. The Calicchios could not be reached.
Mathew Calicchio was expelled from Sachem schools in 2013, earning a GED that year from Suffolk County Community College. When Suffolk police arrested him, authorities said he had accessed student records, including Social Security numbers and confidential medical information, then posted some of the information online in community forums.
In November 2014, he pleaded guilty to computer trespass, a felony. After a year of probation, the court vacated that plea and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
The Calicchios’ lawsuit alleged district officials had Matthew Calicchio expelled from school and arrested after he stopped working on the district computers “in order to hide the problems with their security system.” The 21-page complaint also claimed violations to child labor law and parental liberty, and named the Suffolk County Police Department as a defendant for allegedly staging two “perp walks” for the media after Matthew Calicchio was arrested.
Some of those claims already had been dismissed by last week, when Hurley made his ruling. In a 2019 request for dismissal, a lawyer for the district, Felicia Gross, called many of the claims “meritless.” The record contains “no evidence that any District employee intended to confine Matthew” to work on school computers or that he was ordered not to tell his parents about the supposed arrangement, and he was expelled because he missed 20 consecutive days of school, she wrote.
Matthew Calicchio had approached district officials about holes in computer security, Gross wrote, but according to Dolan, “he never seemed to be able to prove anything.”