Hempstead parents demand probe of school board appointment

Protesters rallied in Hempstead against the appointment of a new trustee to the school district’s board of education. Advocates say the board snubbed their calls by choosing a candidate that was not part of the selection process. Videojournalist: Chris Ware (Dec. 19, 2013)

A small group of outraged Hempstead Village community activists and parents rallied Thursday, demanding a probe into why the district board of education appointed a trustee not on its candidate list, despite calls to hold a special election or appoint a Hispanic trustee.

Advocates said that last week, without giving sufficient notice, the school board met and voted 3-1 to appoint Leonard Myers, 80, to replace trustee Waylyn Hobbs, who resigned from the board in July with two years remaining on his term.

"It seems like the community and the kids are being bullied by the board because everyone is being cut out of the process," said retired NYPD Det. Dennis Jones, 52, of Hempstead, parent of a high school sophomore. "We're looking for the board to go back with their power and rescind their decision because it's outraging the community."


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About 10 people from New York Communities for Change rallied Thursday outside the district's central administration office before marching to deliver a copy to the district of a letter that calls on the state education commissioner to investigate potential board misconduct and violations of open meeting laws.

State education spokesman Tom Dunn declined to comment because the matter could come before Commissioner John B. King Jr. as an appeal under education law, which allows people considering themselves aggrieved to appeal to the commissioner for a review of such action.

Myers, a 50-year village resident who was a stock and insurance broker, was not on the list of 11 people who submitted a resume and cover letter by the September deadline to express interest in serving on the five-member board. The all African-American board put out calls in August, then held interviews in November.

"The process was a complete sham, a farce," said lifelong village resident Melissa Figueroa, an office manager and a former fourth-grade teacher in Hempstead schools, who went through the process. "The community got played, I got played, and ultimately the children continue to be taken advantage of."

Board president Betty Cross and Myers did not return calls seeking comment.

"The board is very proud of their choice for the new trustee," district spokesman Nathan Jackson said.

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