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Hempstead school board extends leave for Superintendent Shimon Waronker

Hempstead schools Superintendent Shimon Waronker speaks Jan. 9

Hempstead schools Superintendent Shimon Waronker speaks Jan. 9 during a news conference at the Hempstead office of his lawyer, Frederick K. Brewington. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

The Hempstead school board extended Superintendent Shimon Waronker’s paid administrative leave Thursday night for another two months.

Waronker was placed on paid leave Jan. 9, 2018, while the board investigated his actions as schools chief. The board has extended his leave several times. The latest extension was set to expire Jan. 31.

At a meeting Thursday night, the five-member board unanimously approved a hand-carry resolution — a matter that was not on the board’s agenda — extending Waronker's leave through March 31. He was referred to as employee No. 4622 in the resolution.  Payroll documents previously obtained by Newsday under the Freedom of Information Law confirmed the employee number is Waronker’s.

The district’s arbitration case against Waronker is proceeding and the next conference is scheduled for Feb. 1, said Jonathan Scher, a Carle Place-based attorney who represents the district and board, in an interview at the board meeting.

“Given the number of charges, the number of witnesses and the volume of documents involved in the amended charges, there is no way the hearing would be concluded by Jan. 31," Scher said.  

Hempstead-based attorney Frederick K. Brewington who represents Waronker, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday night.

The district continues to pay Waronker his $265,000 annual base salary and benefits. His contract extends until June 30, 2021.

Waronker, an administrator with a reputation for turning around low-performing and violent New York City schools, began working in Hempstead on June 2, 2017. In fall of that year, relations soured between the schools chief and a some board members who criticized the district’s awarding of a $450,000 contract to the now-defunct New American Initiative, a Brooklyn-based consulting firm Waronker helped found.

The board, after a shift in its majority, voted 3-2 to place Waronker on leave last January. Waronker immediately filed a federal lawsuit challenging the board’s decision. A federal judge Wednesday dismissed the case.

The board, in an internal labor action in August 2018, brought extensive charges against Waronker, alleging misconduct, bid-rigging and sham hiring, among other accusations. In October, the board filed amended charges, which have not been made public.

Brewington, who released the August charges against his client, has previously called them “false and contrived to mask the real issues that Dr. Waronker was in the process of helping the district solve."

Under his contract Waronker is entitled to a hearing, but no date has been set for any proceedings.

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