Following a series of executive sessions, the School Committee has chosen not to renew the contract of Superintendent Peter Horoschak that expires next July, banished him from school property and placed him on administrative leave.
The reasons for their actions remain a mystery. Seemingly, the decision to remain silent is based on grounds that not doing so would jeopardize the committee’s defense of whatever legal action Mr. Horoschak brings.
But not only is the public in the dark on why Mr. Horoschak has been shown the door; so is Mr. Horoschak.
In a telephone interview last week, he said he learned of the action placing him on administrative leave from a Providence Journal reporter. He received a letter the following day. There was no call, no meeting with the committee. He said that action gives the appearance that he did something improper.
According to their contract, the committee should review Mr. Horoschak’s performance annually with him; a procedure, he says, was never followed. Also, the committee is to conduct that review in advance of the end of the contract, which, evidently, it was doing in executive sessions throughout the summer.
Under open meetings legislation, the committee is required to report any vote taken in executive session. It did report a 3-0 vote was taken on the renewal of the contract, although it did not state the action, which is legally permissible in personnel matters.
Following that action, Mr. Horoschak said he received a letter and it was his understanding the matter was not to be publicly discussed. He said there was no session with the committee where his performance was evaluated.
While the committee neither confirmed nor denied it had chosen not to renew the contract, this paper reported the committee chose not to renew and was looking to buy out the remaining time of Mr. Horoschak’s contract. Soon after that report, Mr. Horoschak was informed he was being placed on administrative leave.
In his absence, Dr. Richard D’Agostino has assumed the job of acting superintendent, in addition to his responsibilities as director of special education. We are waiting to learn of the course of action.
Nonetheless, the manner with which the committee has handled its separation with Mr. Horoschak is deplorable. This is a man who has more than 30 years of school administrative experience with departments across the country and whom they selected from many applicants. Mr. Horoschak deserved a review and the taxpayers deserve an explanation.
The committee may think their silence averts legal action by Mr. Horoschak. We think it invites it.