Peter Horoschak said yesterday he learned he was being placed on administrative leave as superintendent of Warwick Schools when a Providence Journal reporter reached him by phone Friday afternoon.
“Putting me on administrative leave makes me sound like I’ve done something improper,” he said. “There was no need to do it that way. The way they handled this is an insult to me.”
Horoschak received a letter Saturday signed by School Committee Chair Bethany Furtado informing him that he is on paid leave and not to go on school property.
Patrick Maloney, committee vice-chairman, confirmed the action yesterday and that Dr. Richard D’Agostino, director of special education, assumed the role of acting superintendent yesterday.
“I’m confident he can handle those duties,” Maloney said.
D’Agostino said he is doing both jobs and assured parents of Warwick students that the “process of education continues” and that “the transition will be as seamless as possible.”
Maloney knew of no meeting to discuss how the committee will proceed. Also, he did not discuss any details of the action, or the reason why it was taken, since it is his understanding Horoschak has retained an attorney and it is possible the committee could become the subject of a lawsuit.
Last week, neither members of the committee nor Horoschak would confirm or deny that the committee voted not to extend Horoschak’s contract beyond its expiration next July. The committee met in executive session last Tuesday and took a 3-0 vote on the superintendent’s contract, although the nature of that vote was not disclosed.
According to sources, the Beacon learned that not only had the committee voted not to extend the contract, but were also looking to “buy out” the remaining time of the agreement.
Horoschak said at the time he received a letter and it was his understanding that the matter of his contract would not be discussed publicly.
Yesterday Horoschak said he hasn’t been told anything, nor has he met with any committee members, but “it’s obvious that I’m no longer superintendent of schools here.”
Horoschak said he contacted an attorney – Jeffrey Sowa of the firm La Plante, Sowa, Goldman in Providence – following the committee’s action last Tuesday.
Horoschak was picked to head Warwick schools in 2007. His three-year contract was renewed in 2010. He said under the terms of the agreement, he was to have been evaluated, an action that was not taken.
Rather, he said, he received a letter of non-renewal.
“They want me out. They want to replace me,” he said.
Horoschak also took issue with the story in last Thursday’s Beacon that compared his style of administration with the late Robert Shapiro, who he succeeded. Horoschak said he had the highest respect for Shapiro and valued his advice. He also said he made a point of attending school events and, in fact, would have been at the Toll Gate-Vets football game on Saturday but had a personal conflict that occurred at the 11th hour. As it turns out, he said, he would have been in violation of the committee’s edict to stay off school property, which he didn’t receive until later in the day.
Horoschak is paid $165,225. He came to Warwick from the South Orange Maplewood School District in New Jersey, where he was superintendent.