Cami Anderson, Gov. Chris Christie’s educational overseer in Newark, somehow managed to allow Tiffany Hardrick, an old associate, to be paid as a Newark employee even after Hardrick started working in an Arkansas school district last spring. A state audit revealed the irregularities–possibly costing New Jersey taxpayers some $25,000–but Anderson’s own friends in Trenton already have rushed to help her out.
The audit outlining the irregularities is dated Feb. 26, 2015, the very day state Education Commissioner David Hespe announced Anderson would get another year as state-appointed superintendent and favor-dispenser in the school system mismanaged by the state for 20 years. Hespe, copied on the audit’s transmittal letter, must have forgotten to read it.
The audit from the state’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance is complicated but essentially reports that Hardrick was allowed to manipulate rules on sick days and vacation time so that she still could get paid for working in Newark while, at the same time, working as the superintendent of the Forrest City School District in Arkansas in June of last year.
Hespe, of course, did not mention this little detail when he trumpeted what great “progress” Anderson had made in the city to deserve a raise and another year. Hespe’s office now is rushing to give Anderson another month before, by law, she is required to report the findings of the report publicly and explain how the money will be returned.
Anderson should, by state regulations, talk about it at tonight’s school board meeting at East Side High School but won’t. She is likely to boycott the board meeting just as she has boycotted all public sessions of the board for 14 months.
Hardrick, who worked as a $175,000-a-year assistant to Anderson, goes back years with the state-appointed superintendent. They worked together in Memphis for New Leaders for New Schools, one of those corporation-backed “reform” movements out to privatize education. Its current directors include the managing director of Bain Capital–you remember that from Mitt Romney’s candidacy?–and the president of Boeing Military Aircraft.
Hardrick then ended up as part of the massive movement to charterize the New Orleans school district where she made quite a name for herself, running a failing charter school, becoming embroiled in a cheating scandal, and helping her brother Bobby out with a transportation contract.
The perfect background for a $175,000-a-year job in Newark, working for Anderson and Chris Christie.
Hardrick became an enforcer of sorts for Anderson inside the Newark schools and is probably best known for bringing criminal charges against Daryn Martin, a parent leader, who committed the “crime” of trying to post notices of a parent meeting at the Ivy Hill school.
The state audit notes that someone inside the Newark public school administration brought a complaint about how Hardrick received money from the city schools while working in Arkansas. It concludes:
“Based on the results of the investigation, it appears that the allegation that Dr. Hardrick was employed by another district while being compensated as an active employee by the NPS is accurate.
“In addition, the investigation revealed that the district did not hold Dr. Hardrick so existing policies and current statutes because it paid her for sick days in violation thereof. ”
Among the laws and local rules Anderson’s regime violated was requiring Hardrick to get a doctor’s note before she could get paid for sick days. When you are friends with Cami Anderson, rules that are used to destroy the careers of other employees just don’t apply. The report notes that when auditors repeatedly asked for evidence Anderson and Hardrick complied with the rules, “No answers were provided.”
Anderson answers to a higher power–Christie.
And in Chris Christie’s New Jersey, rules governing other people don’t apply to his pals. Hardrick was a crony of Anderson. Anderson is a crony of Hespe and Christie.
And the cronyism continues. The audit arrived at Anderson’s desk March 3. Under state regulations, she had less than 30 days to report the embarrassing details publicly and file a “corrective action plan” to get the money back. But Hespe’s people once again came to Anderson’s rescue, giving her yet another month to come up with a plausible story about this set of infractions.
“Due to the short amount of time to prepare it would be acceptable to present the report at next months (sic) board meeting,” read an email from Steven Hoffmann of the state audit unit to Valerie Wilson, Newark’s school business administrator.
It’s good to have friends in high places.