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Hempstead security director placed on paid leave

Andrew Hardwick, Hempstead schools security director and former

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

The Hempstead school board has placed its security director, former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, on paid administrative leave, his attorney said Monday.

“There is an investigation into something that was done at the business office,” said Hempstead-based attorney Douglas Thomas, who is representing Hardwick, adding that there are no criminal charges against his client. “There is no allegation of any wrongdoing, no allegation of any theft. There’s no allegation of any misappropriation.”

Coming out of a lengthy executive session Thursday night during its regular monthly meeting, the school board in a 3-2 vote approved a hand-carry resolution placing Hardwick on leave while the district conducts an investigation. The resolution was not on the board agenda, but instead was written and carried in from executive session to a public vote.

The resolution referred to the employee as No. 4340. Thomas and a source close to the matter Monday confirmed Hardwick as that employee. The school district would not say why Hardwick is being investigated.

Trustees David Gates, Patricia Spleen and Randy Stith on Thursday night voted in favor of paid administrative leave, and board President LaMont Johnson and Vice President Carmen Ayala voted against.

The board placed him on leave for 60 days pending the investigation, stating that his presence in the department could otherwise hinder said investigation, according to the resolution read aloud. Johnson and acting district Superintendent Regina Armstrong declined to comment, saying it was a personnel matter.

Thomas said he is representing Hardwick in connection with his rights as a civil service employee to continue employment in his position.

“This is purely a question of how the business office handles something, and it seems like my guy is the fall guy for what they did wrong relative to vehicle procurement,” Thomas said.

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

Hardwick in April 2015 was appointed to oversee the district’s security operations with an annual salary of $90,000. His position includes supervising the district’s security detail, Thomas said.

In 2009, Hardwick made history by becoming the first African American elected as mayor in Freeport. Controversy followed. In his first year as mayor, the village spent close to $10,000 to hire security guards to protect him after he said he had received threats. He posted armed police officers at village meetings.

Hardwick lost a re-election bid in 2013, and that same year was unsuccessful in his bid for Nassau County Executive.

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