Newark school system paid former administrator thousands while she worked for Arkansas district

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on March 24, 2015

NEWARK — Newark Public Schools paid a former administrator thousands of dollars for sick days when she was working for an Arkansas school district, a state audit found.

Tiffany 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.

Hardrick's attendance records show that during the month of June 2014 the former administrator took 2 vacation days and 18 sick days. 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 today 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 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 state board of education did not immediately comment on the report.

All Newark Public Schools' employees are required to submit a doctor's note anytime they are sick for more than five days straight, according to the audit.

But the auditors' inquiry into the district's health services department showed that Hardrick did not submit a note. Hardrick said she did not remember whether she submitted a doctor's note or not.

"Auditors inquired with the payroll department as to why she had been paid without the required documentation and who had entered her absences into the district's attendance system, no answers were provided," the auditors wrote.

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.

The auditors also said the district should attempt to recover any overpayments in sick time to Hardrick.

The matter will likely be discussed at a Newark Public Schools advisory board meeting tonight at East Side High School.

Robert Cicchino, the director of state education department's office of fiscal accountability and compliance, said in a Feb. 26, 2015 letter to Newark Public Schools superintendent Cami Anderson, that the matter must be discussed at public board meeting within 30 days of the receipt of the report.

 

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