October 31, 2014
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Superintendent mystified by action putting him on leave

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.


Comments
2 comments on this item

Didn't Rosemary Healy hire the super.? Guess she also did as good a job hiring Len Flood? How much longer are we going to allow Ms. Healey's incompetence run the school dept.?

Here is the hiring process for a school superintendent. The School Committee creates a subcommittee tasked with searching for a superintendent. When the field is narrowed down to the final group, the applicants are reviewed and the sub-committee makes a recommendation to the committee for the choice. The school committee is not required to choose that person and can task the committee with presenting a different candidate. Once the candidate is approved, they are hired as the superintendent. The superintendent is responsible to make recommendations to the committee on administration hires, teachers and other staff. The committee can vote to hire or reject the recommendation of the superintendent to hire a person. Ms. Healey and her staff are only responsible for the HR portion of the new hire by making sure all federal and state laws are followed as it is in any organization. Some applicants require a BCI check and the HR department makes sure that is followed if necessary as well. The Superintendent was hired prior to my being on the committee. Mr Flood was a recommendation of the superintendent for the business director position. Mr Flood was also on staff prior to my being on the school committee. There were 3 members of the committee who voted to approve the extension of the superintendent in 2010.

Here is a link to the Secretary of State site and all the Warwick School Committee agenda and meeting minutes. http://sos.ri.gov/openmeetings//index.php?page=view_entity&id=4224

If you review the minutes for February 9th, 2010, you can see who voted for the extension. You will see I abstained from the vote as noted in the comments, because "Mr. Maloney remarked that he was satisfied with the Superintendent’s performance, but said he would like to ask for the extension to be tabled for this evening for discussion with the superintendent of his objectives and goals." I was overruled and the superintendent contract was renewed in 2010.

All school committee meetings have a public comment portion and all are welcome to attend. Most meetings start with kids from each school talking about their school and we end with public comments. I find the public comment portion to be very helpful. The committee recognizes the public and has, at times, made motions to review policy and make changes based on public comment. Feel free to attend.

It should also be noted that at times, members of the public are asked to sit on sub-committees. Fedup1, if you are interested in sitting on a sub-committee to help resolve issues, I would welcome and encourage it. It is important that all voices be heard.

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