Andrew Hardwick, Hempstead schools security director and former mayor of...

Andrew Hardwick, Hempstead schools security director and former mayor of Freeport. Credit: Chris Ware

The Hempstead school board voted late Thursday to take steps toward seeking the dismissal of the district’s security director, former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick.

The panel, following a closed-door session, voted 3-2 to issue disciplinary charges against Hardwick and extend his paid administrative leave for 60 days.

The five-member board’s allegations against Hardwick were not immediately released.

Board President LaMont Johnson and Vice President Carmen Ayala voted against the measure and trustees David Gates, Patricia Spleen and Randy Stith voted in favor.

The action was taken on a hand-carry resolution — that is, the matter was not on the board’s agenda. The resolution was read aloud during the initial public portion of the meeting, and voted on following an approximately two-hour executive session.

The board hired Hardwick, 61, in April 2015 at a $90,000 annual salary to oversee security operations in the nearly 8,000-student district.

He was placed on paid administrative leave for 60 days by the board at its Oct. 18 meeting, pending an investigation. That action also was taken on a hand-carry resolution read aloud after an executive session. District officials would not give any specifics about the nature of the investigation.

According to the resolution read aloud Thursday, Hardwick will continue on paid leave while disciplinary charges are pursued. He is not permitted on the district property during that time without permission from the district.

Acting District Superintendent Regina Armstrong, Johnson and Jonathan Scher, the Carle Place-based attorney for the district and board members, declined requests for comment, saying it was a personnel matter.

In both resolutions, Hardwick was referred to as employee No. 4340. His attorney, Hempstead-based lawyer Douglas Thomas, previously confirmed Hardwick was that employee.

Thomas on Thursday night said he could not comment because he hadn’t heard from the district’s attorneys on the matter. The charges will be delivered to Hardwick on Friday, according to the resolution.

The matter of Hardwick’s employment had previously caused dissension among trustees. At the October meeting, Gates, Spleen and Stith voted in favor of placing him on leave, and Johnson and Ayala voted against it.

After that meeting, Thomas said he was representing Hardwick in connection with his rights as a civil service employee. He said there was no allegation of any wrongdoing by Hardwick, alluding to “an investigation into something that was done at the business office.”

Thomas represented Johnson in his bid to regain his seat on the board after being ousted by the then-board majority in July 2017. Johnson petitioned state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who reinstated him in November 2017.

In 2009, Hardwick became the first African-American mayor elected in Freeport. He was criticized during his time in office for his combative style, as well as issues with security. In his first year as mayor, the village spent nearly $10,000 to hire security guards to protect him after he said he had received threats. He took to carrying a gun and posted armed police officers at village meetings.

Hardwick lost a re-election bid in 2013. That same year, he was an unsuccessful candidate for Nassau County executive.

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