Tiffany Hardrick, a close friend and former assistant to Cami Anderson, Chris Christie’s appointee to run the Newark schools, will get to keep an extra $12,000 she earned by working two jobs in two different states, here and in Arkansas, at the same time. At least, she will get to keep it for a while.
Exactly why is not clear–Anderson apparently wants it that way but Anderson failed to show up, yet again, for a school board meeting Tuesday night so no one could ask her. Two subordinates, assistant superintendents Vanessa Rodriguez and Charlotte Hitchcock (also Anderson’s counsel) tried to play interference for the nation’s only known hermit school superintendent but board members complained they couldn’t get answers.
“We were told the matter was still under investigation,” said Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson, a school board member who described Tuesday’s board meeting as “one of the strangest we’ve ever had.” It included sending someone out to retrieve one of the assistant superintendents, Rodriguez, who walked out before the board was through asking her questions.
Richardson quoted Rodriguez as saying the Hardrick matter was “still under investigation.”
As it has been for months.
The matter began when Anderson, according to a state audit, wrongly paid more than $2,000 in unused sick time and $12,000 in regular time to Hardrick. Hardrick should not have received the $12,000, the audit reported, because she already was working as the superintendent in the Forrest City, Arkansas, school system.
Hardrick and Anderson worked together for decades. Anderson hired Hardrick to be her $175,000 assistant despite some unpleasantness involving Hardrick’s award of a $500,000 transportation contract to her brother when she was running a charter school in New Orleans. A charter school that, incidentally, received a hgrade “F” from the New Orleans school district.
No matter. Anderson always welcomes her friends to Newark. Even those who only earn graders of F.
The state audit charging that Anderson wrongly paid Hardrick while she was superintendent in Arkansas was dated the same day that David Hespe, the state education commissioner and Anderson’s nominal boss (Christie is her real boss), awarded her a new contract and a merit-pay bonus.
Anderson was initially given 30 days to make the report public and come up with an action plan that is discussed at a school board meeting. Hespe, however, ever thoughtful about Cami Anderson, granted her an extra 30 days to admit her problems and fix them.
More than a month after even that deadline was ignore, Anderson did not come with a public copy of the audit and her subordinates only reluctantly admitted to a “corrective action plan,” or CAP.
The CAP, however, only touched on the wrongly paid sick leave. It did not address the dual payments.
“We have to get answers to this although it is clear Anderson does not want to provide them,” said Baskerville-Richardson.