Dozens of students left Hempstead High School about noon during the district's opening day -- more than two hours before dismissal time -- with several saying they were among many who sat in the auditorium for hours, waiting for class schedules.
The district is operating under a state-mandated agreement to revise and correct its enrollment and registration procedures after it struggled last year with a surge of immigrant students, many of whom were turned away in the first weeks of school because of a lack of room.
Some of the students who did not have class schedules Tuesday were in a similar situation, having entered the United States illegally as unaccompanied minors and resettled on Long Island with relatives or sponsors while their immigration cases are pending.VideoSchedule confusion leads to chaotic day of classes More coverageOpinion and analysis: Hempstead School DistrictDataPlacement of immigrant kids
"I was waiting for four hours," said a 16-year-old 10th-grader whose father asked that he not be identified because his son crossed the border as an unaccompanied minor this summer and is pursuing full legal status. "There were hundreds of students waiting, and many of us left without schedules."
Through a spokesman, the district said it was working to overcome the problems and had a largely successful first day of classes.
"There were a few bumps in the road that were commonplace for any first day at any school, but they are being corrected, and going forward the high school will be able to serve the students better," said spokesman Michael Fricchione. He said scheduling problems could be fixed as soon as Wednesday.
Some students did not have schedules because "they just registered today," Fricchione said. He could not say how many were left out of classes.
New students, among them recently arrived immigrants, still were registering Tuesday morning.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is continuing to watch the district closely, spokesman Matt Mittenthal said in a statement.
"Attorney General Schneiderman will continue to aggressively monitor Hempstead to ensure that every child has equal access to education, regardless of immigration status," Mittenthal said. "We will take any reports of noncompliance with our agreement seriously as students go back to school this week."
At an Aug. 20 school board meeting, enrollment ombudsman Robert Rodriguez -- who was appointed to fix problems under the settlement with the attorney general's office -- said the district has moved to meet requirements to enroll all students who qualify.
"The department has been running quite smoothly," Rodriguez said then. He said the district had implemented "all of the revised and approved registration documents" for parents and students, and "we've been able to serve them quickly and appropriately" without long waits.
A total of 457 new students had registered or were in the process of doing so as of Aug. 20, Rodriguez said.
Jason Starr, director of the Nassau County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said his organization had been in touch with high school students who were enrolled and had attended school but had not been in classes.
Starr said the district is continuing to show "technical incompetence" in managing its student population.
"Meeting your obligation with registration and enrollment is one thing, but it doesn't end there," Starr said. "Kids have to be in class to learn."