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Real 'Bad Education' Superintendent Speaks Out About HBO Movie, Hugh Jackman's Portrayal

Frank Tassone, the former Roslyn School District Superintendent, discusses Hugh Jackman's portrayal of him in the HBO movie, "Bad Education."
Frank Tassone, the former Roslyn School District Superintendent, discusses Hugh Jackman's portrayal of him in the HBO movie, "Bad Education." Video Credit: Stage 29 Podcasts
Video Credit: Stage 29 Podcasts
Video Credit: Stage 29 Podcasts
Video Credit: Stage 29 Podcasts

Frank Tassone, the disgraced former Long Island school superintendent whose embezzlement scheme was chronicled in a new HBO movie, "Bad Education," has responded to the weekend release of the film.

The plot of the film centered on Tassone’s larceny scheme at the Roslyn School District in Nassau County, in which more than $11 million was embezzled through the school district during his tenure before he was ultimately busted and arrested.

The scandal was uncovered by a student reporter investigating the district’s budget who had previously been encouraged by Tassone to dig deeper into what was initially a puff piece.

Tassone was a guest for a two-part interview on The Coach Mike Podcast this week, where he sounded off on Jackman’s portrayal, what the movie got right and wrong, the depiction of his sexuality, and the ultimate grief and shame he still faces daily. 

“It was difficult (to watch). Very difficult,” he said. “You know, I recognize that what I did was wrong and I broke the law, but that was 20 years ago and I finally thought, you know, I could go forward. 

"And for it to come all back 20 years later brought back feelings that were hurtful and that were warranted in many respects. So, it was a challenging time to watch the movie.”

Tassone had nothing but praise for the Academy Award-nominated Jackman, noting that he felt the actor “defended him.”

“He did a very good job portraying me… he actually defended me…” the former school administrator said. “I think he did a good job playing me, especially at the end when I’m in prison and I walk out and I see what I lost because I did something so terrible. And that really hit home for me”

According to Tassone, the film - which was mainly written by Mike Makowsky, who was a Roslyn middle school student when Tassone was arrested in 2004 - is “maybe 40 percent to 50 percent accurate.”

“‘Bad Education’ was maybe 40 percent of it was true,” he said, though he critiqued how the director depicted his relationship with his wife. “It was disrespectful to her, and I loved her very much.”

Tassone noted, regarding his 45-year relationship with his domestic partner and going through a period of having an open relationship, that "when I went to Vegas I did meet someone... what bothered me terribly, was never a former student (as portrayed in the movie).” 

The former school administrator also took umbrage with the way his sexuality was depicted in the movie.

“That upset me as well because I'm not ashamed of being a gay man. And again, they made it seem somewhat sordid… I had to hide it… if I would have told the Board of Education “I’m gay” - then - I would never had gotten the position… that bothered me, that upset me… I don’t understand why they had to bring my sexuality into the film.”

"Bad Education" debuted on HBO on Saturday, April 25 and is available for streaming on HBO outlets.

For more of the interview, watch the four video clips above.

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