The reason behind a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board candidate’s departure as a youth specialist with the park system will say resigned instead of fired.
The Park Board agreed to Hashim Yonis’ request to resign, with conditions, as part of a settlement that rescinds his earlier firing over an accusation that he kept money collected for a field rental.
The agreement was signed late Monday by Park Superintendent Jayne Miller. But the Hennepin County attorney’s office is still reviewing a police report on the matter for possible criminal charges.
Yonis was fired Aug. 23 after an internal investigation alleged that he violated numerous civil service rules and later appealed the decision to the city’s Civil Service Commission. In a statement Tuesday, the Park Board reiterated that the allegations against Yonis were just cause for firing and that the agreement was in the “best interest” of the park system.
In a statement, Yonis said he decided to opt for a settlement although he continues to dispute the claims against him. He said he decided that was best because it allows him to focus on running for an at-large seat on the Park Board.
Regarding the possibility of charges, he said in a phone interview, “I believe the county has higher expectations than this petty stuff.”
Separately, Yonis was placed on administrative leave from his program assistant job at South High School, school district spokesman Stan Alleyne said Tuesday night. Details were not available.
The Park Board earlier said Yonis had received $3,800 in field rental money from adult soccer teams but did not turn it over to the board. Yonis told investigators he did not take the money. According to the Park Board documents, a number of people interviewed said he had asked for cash payments for field rental — once behind the closed door of a small equipment shed — and seldom gave receipts.
The agreement, which Yonis can rescind for 15 days, bars him from ever applying for a Park Board job, from disparaging park personnel about the investigation and from suing the board over his employment period.
Yonis is one of 10 candidates seeking three at-large seats in a field that includes three current or former park commissioners. Yonis said he’s optimistic. “The residents of Minneapolis are very smart and they know who I am very well,” he said in an e-mail.
However, political analyst Larry Jacobs said he thinks electoral prospects for Yonis have dimmed. “There are few things that alarm voters more than charges of corruption,” Jacobs said.