November 22, 2014
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No movement on superintendent since Horoschak placed on leave

"Limbo” is the best word to describe the position of permanent school superintendent since Peter Horoschak was abruptly informed, without explanation, that he was being placed on administrative leave and told to keep off school property on Sept. 14.

Technically, Horoschak is superintendent until July 2013, when his contract expires. In the meantime, director of special services Dr. Richard D’Agostino has been named acting superintendent by the School Committee. He’s moved into Horoschak’s former office and was given a pay raise by the committee. At this point, it would appear D’Agostino could be acting superintendent indefinitely.

“We still have a superintendent under contract,” Rosemary Healey, legal counsel and human service director for the department, said Thursday. She said that, until that changes, which would happen when the contract expires or an agreement is reached with Horoschak, the department would not be advertising to fill the job. Horoschak is being paid $165,225.

“We can’t move forward until it is rectified,” Bethany Furtado, chair of the committee, said Thursday. She called the situation “a work in progress,” adding that the decision of the committee is not to comment.

Healey would not comment on the status of an agreement with Horoschak or, in fact, whether that is something being worked on. She said she was leaving comment to Jeff Sowa, the attorney Horoschak has retained, because Horoschak is his client.

Reached last Wednesday, Sowa said the parties have been in communication, but nothing is happening, or scheduled to happen, at this time. Horoschak has not brought suit against the department, although Sowa left the possibility open.

“That remains on the table,” he said.

Sowa said the situation with Horoschak is similar, in many respects, to the case he handled for Stephen Chrabaszcz, who was fired as principal of Johnston High School without explanation. In that case, the department’s newly appointed superintendent placed Chrabaszcz on leave, although his contract did not expire for at least another academic year. Chrabaszcz, who is now principal of Toll Gate High, sued on grounds that the contract had been broken and that the unexplained action injured his reputation. A jury ruled in Chrabaszcz’s favor, awarding him about $200,000 in pay.

While Horoschak’s contract runs through July of next year, Sowa sees parallels in that Horoschak was not given a written evaluation of his performance or an explanation for placing him on leave.

Furtado feels the system is running well despite the uncertainty raised by Horoschak’s departure.

“Everything is moving in a foreword direction,” she said.

She said that the opening of schools went well.

“Educating children is our priority,” she said.

Furtado said the single exception was the committee’s decision to change the mentor aspect of the graduation by proficiency program. Because of a state law requiring state and federal background checks of mentors that would have required spending about $25,000 to do backgrounds on over 700 mentors, seniors were instructed to only contact mentors by phone or email. A change in the law is expected to specifically exempt the senior program.

Asked about D’Agostino’s performance, Furtado said, “I believe Richard is doing a fine job. Everyone is working well together.”


Comments
5 comments on this item

This whole situation makes no sense to me. If the action to suspend the Superintendnet was warranted some action would have occurred by now. There was no progressive discipline, no due process, just the letter citing the suspensio with no reason given. The entire situation was mismanged. Who is advising the School Committee? Now the Superintendent is getting his full salary and I assume benefits while sitting at home. Based upon the similar case cited there will be a six figure legal judgement or more likely a settlement as the School Committee will not want to go through a public trial demonstrate their incompetence. Given what is happening why not let the Superintendent just work out his contract which was expiring? This makes no sense.

They are bureaucrats, why would you think any of this makes sense, other than the city is going to cut a big check at the end of the day. That is of course unless Arnold Horoshack is found to be Charlie Manson.

Take time to look at Warwick Police Report # 12-5688-OF. This is a public document and is very interesting, it concerns a new member of the school committee.

This is unbelieveable. The School Committee won't spend $25,000 on mentor background checks due to the 'cost'. But it will continue to spend an entire year's contract amount of $ 165,225 for an inactive school superintendent. Is the Warwick School Committee just not happy with Superintendent Horoschak's performance & planning to allow his contract to expire? Warwick taxpayers/officials/parents don't know because the School Committee doesn't address the issue in any public session. If 'educating children is their priority' the Warwick School Committee needs more oversight, especially when it concerns money matters.

Is it really unbelievable? Everyday there are CEOs let go, they get paid to leave and someone better comes in and straightens things out. I am looking forward to the next person in charge... someone who shows up to work everyday.

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