The Warwick school board on Tuesday scrapped a controversial plan to give raises to 12 administrators for their efforts following an October 2018 crash that left two students dead and another seriously injured.
They did so after the board president scolded some residents for posting “personal” and “vicious” attacks on social media toward Superintendent April Hershey and the 11 others who, they say, had nothing to do with the proposed raise.
“We will not stand for personal attacks against any of our board members, Dr. Hershey, the administrative team, our teachers and staff, or anyone associated with the school district, and even the larger Warwick community,” board President Michael Landis said with a room – and adjacent lobby – full of residents.
On Sunday, the school district announced Hershey, who earns $179,900 a year, and the other employees, whose salaries range from $84,456 to $145,230, turned down the controversial raises after critics spoke out against administrators seemingly benefiting from tragedy.
The proposed raises of 1% to 1.5%, Landis said, were “intended to be a recognition of their time, talents and investment in our students, parents, staff, school district and larger Warwick community.”
In attendance Tuesday was Donna Nicholson-Stief, the mother of Jack Nicholson, who died in last year’s crash near the high school.
Nicholson-Stief also spoke against the attacks against Warwick administrators.
“It is this type of approach – not the subject matter – that rips our hearts open again,” she said, reading off sheets of paper with her son’s photo attached.
“No amount of any type of compensation can properly reflect anyone’s efforts last fall,” she added, “and administrators know that and have never asked for anything other than to be shown respect.”
But many in the community, including Warwick teachers, questioned the board’s decision-making.
“Selecting certain individuals for this salary increase minimizes the efforts of others who have selflessly given their time during the tragedy and every day since,” said Lisa Hochreiter, president of the Warwick Education Association and an agriculture science teacher at Warwick High School.
Cindy Cislo, an intervention specialist at John Beck Elementary School, questioned why Hershey and others didn’t turn down the raise sooner.
“Any one of you could’ve stopped this train,” she said. “Why didn’t you? Did you try?”
After the meeting, Hershey declined to take questions. Landis also declined to comment further.