Now is the time for the Scarsdale School Board to take charge

Now is the time for the Scarsdale School Board to take charge

(This is the opinion of Joanne Wallenstein, founder of the site Scarsdale10583) This week there is a moment of calm in the storm that is hitting schools in Scarsdale due to school holidays and the celebration of Passover and Easter. However, the revelation that the school’s administration withheld information from the school board about its payroll tax issues and a $1.3 million tax lien against the district sticks in mind.

After an op-ed in the Scarsdale Inquirer calling on the Board of Education to show the door to Scarsdale School superintendent Dr Thomas Hagerman, speculation is rife about what action the Board might take when they return from summer vacation. ‘april.

For Commission watchers, the fact that the Superintendent hid this information from the Commission for nine months should come as no surprise. His tenure was marked by secrecy, opposition silence and fear. He withheld information from the public, minimized parent involvement in schools, and hid controversial board business by wrapping it in the board’s consent agenda so there was no vote or discussion. He exercised coercion rather than seeking consensus. Parents who spoke out or questioned the administration often feared their children would suffer for their parents’ actions.

However, at this point his tactic may have failed. The concealment of the problem from the IRS and its secretive nature could prove to be its downfall. More troubling than the $1.7 million in erroneous payments and penalties is the fact that the administration has kept this a secret for so long.

The superintendent’s contract clearly states his or her obligation to keep the school board informed of district finances. It says, “The SUPERINTENDENT shall keep the COUNCIL properly informed of all matters relating to the administration of the DISTRICT which should reasonably come to the attention of the COUNCIL, including, but not limited to, employee discipline, relations work and finances.”

The contract also required him to give the district twelve months’ notice of his resignation, another provision he violated in January 2022 when he unexpectedly announced his intention to leave for a new job in Chicago in June. , leaving the district without enough time to seek a new leader.

It says: “The SUPERINTENDENT shall give the SCHOOL BOARD notice of resignation twelve (12) months prior to the effective date of resignation. The resignation date must not fall within the academic school year.

The news of his resignation came as another big surprise for the board who had agreed to extend his contract in June 2021, without any input from the community. Looking back, many wonder if the superintendent pushed for the contract extension after realizing his job could be jeopardized by the tax error. When he resigned in January, no one on the board publicly challenged him for breaching the terms of the contract. Perhaps they saw his resignation as a blessing in disguise.

Dr. Hagerman violated two clauses of his contract. With this double whammy, the Council can no longer justify its inaction. It is their job to exercise oversight to defend our finances, our laws and the public trust. They can’t let this go. It’s not going away. The Superintendent has silenced and co-opted the Council and the community for quite a long time.

It is time for the board of directors to do their duty and appoint new leaders.

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