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Long IslandEducation

Hempstead school board extends Waronker’s leave until July 31

Superintendent Shimon Waronker has been on paid administrative leave since Jan. 9 when the board’s balance of power shifted to its current majority.

Hempstead trustee Randy Stith, center, part of the

Hempstead trustee Randy Stith, center, part of the majority voting bloc on the current Hempstead school board, argues Thursday evening with other board members at the district's first meeting since their budget passed earlier in the week and two incumbent trustees were voted out. Photo Credit: Danielle Silverman

The Hempstead school board voted Thursday to extend the paid administrative leave of embattled district superintendent Shimon Waronker through July 31.

Waronker’s leave, which was set to end June 1, was extended to provide more time for the district’s investigation and to assess evidence, according to the hand-carry measure read aloud at the meeting.

Board President Maribel Touré and Vice President Gwendolyn Jackson vehemently opposed the measure, saying they didn’t know the identity of “employee 4266,” as Waronker was referred to in the statement read aloud. Newsday later confirmed that it was his employee number.

The women also said they had not seen the measure before the meeting and wanted to discuss it in executive session.

The action instead was voted on swiftly, with the board’s majority — LaMont Johnson, David Gates and Randy Stith — approving the item, while Touré and Jackson voted against it.

“This is really insulting,” Jackson said about getting the measure without any notice or being able to discuss it further.

The State Education Department did not immediately return a request for comment on the extension Thursday night.

Waronker — a flash point for the divided board — was hired last May when Jackson and Touré were part of the board majority. His annual base salary is $265,000.

On Jan. 9, he was placed on paid administrative leave after the board’s balance of power had shifted to its current majority. Regina Armstrong, a longtime administrator in the district, is serving as acting superintendent.

Waronker has an ongoing lawsuit in federal court against the board and the district challenging his removal.

The extension of Waronker’s leave and increased infighting on the board Thursday night comes two days after the community voted to oust Touré and Jackson from the board, electing Carmen Ayala and Patricia Spleen in their stead.

Jackson and Touré will remain on the board until July when their terms end.

Ayala and Spleen will be seated and the board will vote on its new leadership at its reorganization’s meeting scheduled for July 3, according to the district’s website.

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