Questions swirl over removal of school superintendent
Mystery and rumors continue to surround the School Committee’s action to not renew the contract of Superintendent Peter Horoschak and place him on administrative leave, which is equivalent to firing him.
“Hopefully, it will be settled,” committee member Eugene Nadeau said yesterday. As for why the committee has not issued a statement, he said, “We want to see what action his attorney will be taking.”
Asked of what developments he knew of, Mayor Scott Avedisian replied in an email:
“I maintain full confidence in the actions of the Chair of the School Committee. There are many personnel issues at play here that I am not privy to, but I know that Beth Furtado would not act in a rash manner. I do think that the School Committee needs to make a statement shedding some light on the situation.”
Jeffrey Sowa, Horoschak’s attorney, said his client “is considering his legal options” but at this point has not brought any action.
“We will pursue every avenue we can to get answers,” said Sowa. “We would like to think that he would be treated better than that.” He further noted there are “no allegations of wrongdoing” and “we are befuddled with what the School Committee is doing.”
Horoschak said last week that he learned he was on administrative leave from a Providence Journal reporter and the following day received a letter informing him of the committee’s action and instructing him not to go on school property. That was a week ago Saturday.
Horoschak could not be reached for comment yesterday. His cell phone, which presumably was provided by the department [and is provided by contract], was no longer in service and he could not be contacted at his home in Cowesett.
Asked for reasons why the committee chose not to renew Horoschak’s contract that expires in July, Nadeau said, “It had to be done. There has got to be reasons but there is no sense of putting them forward.”
After a pause, he added, “We have got to do the right thing by him [Horoschak].”
The committee, which has five members, voted 3-0 not to renew the contract in an executive session. The vote was reported but neither the action taken nor who voted was disclosed. Nadeau said he voted not to renew the contract.
Asked whether the committee planned to issue a statement, Nadeau said, “We’re not told anything until it happens and I think that’s the best way to handle it.”
The committee met in executive session Thursday, but no action was reported. Nadeau said the committee reviewed what actions it might take.
In Horoschak’s absence, Richard D’Agostino, director of special education, has been named acting superintendent. He referred questions about Horoschak, as well as his pay as acting superintendent, to the School Committee.
Nadeau said D’Agostino is receiving the superintendent’s rate, although he could not say what the exact amount is. There is a prescribed pay scale for the job and, having served for more than five years, Horoschak, at $165,255, was not at the bottom of the range.
As for what happens now, Nadeau said he expects the committee would follow a process of advertising the job and interviewing candidates.
“We need the best,” he said.
However, Nadeau also sees a need to resolve the current situation.
“We need to settle [with Horoschak],” he said.
Neither committee chair Bethany Furtado, nor the department’s director of human resources and legal counsel, Rosemary Healey, returned calls for this article.