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|Varleton McDonald, seen in November 2017, was deputy superintendent of the Hempstead school |
district. Photo Credit: Daniel Goodrich
Ex-Hempstead deputy superintendent files wrongful termination suit
Varleton McDonald alleges the school board's majority targeted him because he disclosed information about "rampant and corrosive corruption, waste, and gross illegalities" in the district
By Keshia Clukey
Updated November 5, 2018 9:55 PM
Former Hempstead schools Deputy Superintendent Varleton McDonald is suing the district and several members of its board, alleging he was wrongfully terminated after blowing the whistle on corruption in the system.
The civil complaint, filed Oct. 10 in federal court in Central Islip, alleges members of the school board's majority “retaliated” against McDonald and terminated his employment after he disclosed information about “rampant and corrosive corruption, waste, and gross illegalities” in the district. According to the complaint, he spoke with the state Education Department and was questioned by the FBI about issues in the district.
McDonald, terminated Jan. 17, was brought to the district by embattled Superintendent Shimon Waronker, with whom he previously worked in New York City — an association that contributed to his firing, said Mark Goidell, the Garden City-based attorney for McDonald.
Read the lawsuit
Waronker, on paid administrative leave since Jan. 9, also is suing the district regarding his removal.
McDonald's lawsuit names the district and board members David Gates, Randy Stith and LaMont Johnson, who made up the majority when the board voted in favor of terminating his employment.
The lawsuit “has no merit whatsoever," said Jonathan Scher, the Carle Place-based attorney for the district and board members.
“The complaint contained allegations that are wholly fictitious and warrant the board asserting a character claim for defamation,” Scher said. He said making “scandalous accusations in an attempt to try to manufacture a claim is not excusable and establishes the level of maliciousness that exposes a plaintiff to liability for defamation even where the claims are made against a public figure.”
The Scher Law Firm, where Scher is a partner, on Oct. 30 asked permission from the court to file a motion to dismiss. The court has not ruled.