A low level clerk gets booted for double payment to Cami Anderson’s friend?

Vanessa Rodriguez at school board meeting--whosever fault paying Tiffy Hardrick was, it wasn't Cami's
Vanessa Rodriguez at school board meeting–Wasn’t me, wasn’t Cami

Cami Anderson, the hermit superintendent of the Newark schools, exonerated herself of any wrongdoing in the illegal giveaway of thousands of dollars to an  old friend and former assistant who managed to draw checks from school districts in two different states. Anderson, Gov. Chris Christie’s agent in the district, did it apparently by blaming the scam on lower-level employees no longer employed by the district.

“So he took the hit for everything?”  asked Phil Sellinger, a member of the Newark school board whose members tried unsuccessfully Tuesday night to find out exactly how Anderson arranged to have Tiffany Hardrick, a $175,000-a-year assistant superintendent, obtain more than $12,000 in compensation from Newark while she was working as schools superintendent in Forrest City, Arkansas, after she quit.

The “he” to which Sellinger referred was the director of payroll who left Newark after the double payment to Hardrick was revealed in an audit conducted by the state Department of Education. Despite Sellinger’s suspicions, there was no evidence anyone except high level officials were involved in the payments–and Rodriguez did not directly link the departure of the employees with the payments to Hardrick.

Anderson has not appeared at a school board meeting since January of 2014, blaming that year’s mayoralty campaign–now more than a year old–for not wanting to come to board meetings because they had become too political. Instead, she had another $175,000-a-year assistant, Vanessa Rodriguez, explain–sort of–how Hardrick managed to earn money from two full-time jobs.

Rodriguez’s report was a masterpiece of the passive tense–the “verification” of Hardrick’s right to the $12,000 “was not done.” Exactly who did not do it was not made clear–although Rodriguez herself admitted she signed off on the payment–as, apparently did Anderson.

Anderson’s generosity toward her old friend Hardrick knows few bounds. Anderson hired her despite Hardrick’s less than voluntary departure from running a New Orleans charter school that awarded a $500,000 bus contract to her–Hardrick’s–brother. The school authority in New Orleans awarded the school she ran an “F.” Those were, of course, great credentials to bring to Newark.

Rodriguez said the school system’s lawyers would try to get something more than $5,200 back from Hardrick who already has given back more than $2,200 in illegal sick pay. Although the full amount paid to Hardrick was more than $12,000, the district is only seeking to recoup the net, not the gross, pay from Hardrick. The rest of the money–paid in withholding and pension contributions–just vanishes, apparently.

Board members were unhappy with Rodriguez’s report because the “chief talent officer”–yes, that’s her title–danced around who actually authorized the payment. The board members clearly believed it was Anderson  but, with others falling on their swords for the boss, willingly or not, it seems unlikely the always-absent Anderson will ever be blamed.

The most perplexing question was never really raised–except by this site and Rodriguez refused to answer the question. The state audit said investigators from Trenton repeatedly demanded documentation for the payments made to Hardrick and the Newark school administration ignored the demands.  “No answers were provided,” the state audit charged.

Now, it seems difficult to believe that a payroll bureaucrat, faced with demands from a state auditor, would repeatedly blow him off without checking with superiors. The payroll guy’s boss was Rodriguez and Rodriguez’s boss, of course, is Cami Anderson.

I asked Rodriguez why the state wasn’t answered. “No,” she said.

Board member Donald Jackson wanted to know why the payroll director was replaced without Anderson informing the board. Marques-Aquil Lewis said he wanted “the folks who were responsible held accountable”–and he clearly did not believe the issue involved the payroll guy.

Just what happened to the payroll guy couldn’t be discussed publicly, according to one of Cami’s  lawyers at the meeting. A “personnel matter,” said Arsen Zartarian–and that, of course, would require a closed session.

This site won’t identify the payroll guy because it appears he already has suffered enough.

The important thing–as everyone who works for Cami Anderson has come to realize–is that the most important thing is that she be allowed to continue her job. Everyone else is just, well, peripheral.

 

 

13 comments

  1. Kate

    What kind of nonsense is this? The Payroll Office does NOT generate pay checks unless some other department submits paperwork identifying the reason for payment and the budget line from which pay will be drawn. This paperwork requires at least two levels of approval before Payroll processes anything.

  2. Newark2Cedar

    Ms. Hardwick received the money because she played ball. Ms. Hardwick has plenty that would embarrass the State Appointed Superintendent, stories of complete incompetence, unethical behavior, favoritism and worse. Whether the money comes from District, FNF or some other Foundation, this is shut up money, plain and simple. This was no error by a low level employee, this part of the Rodriquez play book. Someone wants out, its her job to make sure they do not hurt her boss. Follow the money and follow the hires and departures, Hardwick is one of many who have left with a bucket of money. Others are leaving in the next few weeks, that will mean more money for those departing and less money that will actual go to our kids.

  3. robin

    when will the lies stop. Produce the former payroll director, put him under oath and I’m sure he will have a different story to tell. That is low of low. He’s not even around to defend himself. When did the director of talent become involved in the financial affairs of the district. Do they have personnel for that. Who’s running the district Camille or Vanessa. I vote for Vanessa. I’m sure if we follow the money we will find many more payments paid to former employees. Maybe it was a compensation for keeping their mouths closed. Camille has been know for forcing employees to sign gag orders. The corruption will never stop until there is a change of the guards.

  4. booklady

    Hmm, isn’t a Chief Talent Officer usually aware when a $175,000K employee is paid after effective date of resignation?
    Wasn’t financial funny stuff part of the reason for state takeover 20 years ago?

    • Stressed

      Financial funny stuff! This current administration has raised this and cronyism to an art form.

  5. Becca Fields

    What if we based the educational goals of Cami Anderson’s leadership on her role modeling rather than the CCSS – what would she be teaching? Hypocrisy, lying, the opposite of integrity and respect, accountability only applies to others, cronyism, theft, bullying and the list goes on. Actions speak louder than words. Her actions are indefensible which is why I suppose she stays silent.

    • Mythology

      Cami, like her boss, cannot keep track of all the lies that she has perpetuated during her administration. Hush money? These people will be babbling left and right, pointing fingers and shredding documents when it comes time to answer to the Federal Authorities.

      Cami doesn’t realize that her boss has already left her to steer a sinking ship which she has no credentials to do.

      My advise to all those in a position to see and know the illegalities that have occurred during Cami’s Tenure to start organizing their data like the principal of Central High School has done. Her petition is a blue-print on how to document the sins of this administration.

      Mr. Braun you are coming out strong since your illness. You seem refreshed and ready for the court cases to begin. Keep your pen poised and moving. We need more insight into the rats abandoning ship.

  6. Stressed

    It is quite amazing what these people get away with. I retired. I did my 25 years and I still had to make numerous calls, send emails; I showed-up in person a couple times, listening to a litany of excuses and buck passing by payroll clerks. It took about two months to track down and be paid for the 55 sick days I didn’t use. If I wasn’t so annoying, I don’t know if I’d ever get it. I assure you the buy back on those sick days wasn’t anything that amounted to $12,000; not even close. It was while I was trying to get this money, like it was a part time job, the story broke out about Hardrick. If felt extra bitter to read about it.

    • Tom2

      As the leader of a school district once explained to an associate who’d wondered why the leader kept an AS$H@L€ on the payroll, an AS$H@L€ that was incapable of telling the truth, the leader of the school district stated: “She’s saved my life more than once. Everyone in this business needs an AS$H@L€.”

  7. SLT3 Alum

    I appreciate you Bob Braun more than you will ever know! This is unacceptable on many levels especially since so many employees have not gotten a new contract and increments in years because of the claim of no money!

  8. Gloria Marie

    Cami and the bully bureaucrats of New Jersey always talk about accountability and how our teachers and schools need more accountability. Dare I say hypocrite in the wake of this new revelation? Where is Anderson’s “accountability” in all this? I will reiterate for anyone who does not know-I am not a teacher in Newark nor a parent of a student of Newark schools. I am an alumnus of Newark public schools. I am also a teacher in New Jersey. So, such stories make me want to run to each school in New Jersey and yell to the teachers “Don’t you see what is happening?” The news coverage has increased on Cami and her sinister ways, but the only way for Cami and Christie to resign is for more Newarkers and more New Jerseyans to say something. If he resigns, she will follow suit. If she resigns, it will be a direct blow to his bully arsenal. The only way to stop this noise is to make more noise. The word has to keep getting out. Our teachers and students have suffered enough. Cami and Christie should be held “accountable” for what they have done.

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