Newark school district to discuss investigation into former administrator's $12K sick pay

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on March 25, 2015

Newark Public Schools will discuss the findings of a state audit next month.

 

NEWARK — The Newark public school district will publicly discuss the findings of a state audit alleging a former administrator was paid thousands of dollars for sick days when she was working for another school district next month, a district official said.

Tiffany Hardrick, a former Newark Public Schools assistant superintendent, was paid more than $12,115 for sick days during June 2014 even after she had started to work for an Arkansas school district, a state education department audit found.

Robert Cicchino, the director of the department's office of fiscal accountability and compliance, said in a Feb. 26, 2015 letter, that the district must discuss the findings at a public meeting within 30 days of receiving the report.

But district general counsel Charlotte Hitchcock told the Newark Public Schools Advisory Board on Tuesday that the district requested and was granted an extension from the state.

"It's simply a delay," she said "We simply asked for an extension."

But some board members criticized the district for the delay.

Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson said the district should a "sense of urgency" about explaining the findings to the public and that the superintendent should be the one to do it.

"She herself can answer questions," she said.

Hardrick was hired by Newark Public Schools in 2012 to be assistant superintendent for special education with a salary of $175,000. Her title later changed to assistant superintendent, the New Jersey Department of Education audit said.

She took 2 vacation days and 18 sick days during the month of June 2014. She was paid more than $12,115 for the sick days, according to the audit.

But the auditors found that Hardrick had been hired by the Forest City school district in Arkansas effective on June 9, 2014. On two days -- June 11, 2014 and June 24 2014 -- she was present for school board meetings in Forest City but was compensated by Newark Public Schools for being sick, the audit said.

"Based on the results of the investigation, it appears that the allegation that Dr. Hardrick was employed by another school district while being compensated by the NPS is accurate," the audit said.

Hardrick said Tuesday she had not read the report but thought any violation of policy was inadvertent.

"If there is an inadvertent violation of policy we'll both work to correct it," she said, referring to the Newark school district. "I don't think anyone did anything with malicious intent."

Hardrick said she did take a combination of sick and vacation days during the month of June 2014. She said that she was only working with Forest City during that month of June in an interim and part-time capacity while the former superintendent finished her tenure. She officially started as superintendent in Forest Hills in July 2014, she said.

Newark Public Schools spokeswoman Brittany Chord Parmley said in a statement Tuesday the district was looking into the matter.

"Newark Public Schools is aware of and cooperating with the state's review of this matter. We take these issues seriously and the District will be conducting a separate internal investigation," she said.

The district also allowed Hardrick to sell 10 of her unused sick days back to the district at a rate of three for one.

While there is an existing Newark Public Schools program for some staff that allows them to sell their unused sick days at a rate of three days per one day of salary, it is only supposed to apply to people with 25 or more years of service with the district, according to the audit.

Hardrick was paid more than $2,243 for that time, the audit said.

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