The Hempstead Public Schools Board of Education voted this week to bring charges against its suspended Superintendent Shimon Waronker, who has alleged uncovering corruption in the long-struggling district.
Waronker’s attorney, Frederick Brewington, confirmed to the Press on Thursday that the board has accused Waronker of bid-rigging, conflict of interest, misconduct and dozens of other charges. Brewington said the board is trying to attack the credibility of his client, who filed a lawsuit against the board in Central Islip federal court in an attempt to be reinstated after he was suspended earlier this year.
“They are all false and contrived to mask the real issues that Dr. Waronker was in the process of helping the District solve,” Brewington said in a statement. “What is [a shame] is that this Board of Education has chosen to follow a path of denial of the real concerns facing the District and the children of Hempstead.”
He noted that the development comes days after CBS2 News released a documentary about the school district’s decades of failures dubbed 37%, with the title referring to the school district’s graduation rate that ranks among the lowest in the nation.
The board’s allegations largely hinge on its former contract with the New American Initiative (NAI), a nonprofit that Waronker founded before becoming superintendent. Waronker maintains that he stepped down from his role at the group before taking the Hempstead job and that his contract stated he would use it as a resource to reform the district.
“You misled the District and expressly misrepresented the facts, pretending that you no longer had a professional or financial relationship with the NAI, implying falsely that your interests in the NAI had been severed, and deceptively presenting your relationship and interests in the NAI in the past tense,” the charges state.
Waronker had been hired by the school board following a national search with the goal of reforming the district. Later, school board members aligned with Hempstead for Hempstead, a group led by a convicted sex offender, were voted into the majority, which includes a Hempstead village police officer who was arrested in April on more than a dozen charges of theft and fraud.
Waronker, who previously turned around struggling New York City schools, had launched an investigation into the district and referred findings of what he alleged was corruption to authorities. The new school board in turn launched an investigation into Waronker that led to this week’s charges. A New York State comptroller audit and state Education Department review are ongoing.
The embattled superintendent now has the choice to have the hearing on his charges in public or private.