In a move toward solidifying the recovery of the Roosevelt Union Free School District, Marnie Hazelton has been named its permanent superintendent.
After serving as interim district superintendent since last fall, one of the main goals for Hazelton, whose appointment was announced this week, is to search for a permanent principal for Roosevelt High School, she said, adding that the flagship school needs a leader “with a history of being a change agent.”
Noting the school moved up to the state Department of Education’s “Good Standing” list after years of underperformance, Hazelton said, “We want to keep that momentum going with strong leadership.”
Another major priority for Hazelton is improving district test scores.
“I would like to see the passing grades higher,’’ she said. ‘‘Our students are very talented and I want to see our students score between 80 to 100.”
It’s been a gradual recovery for the Roosevelt district roughly 14 years removed from a 2002 takeover by the state in the wake of academic and financial woes. All five of Roosevelt’s schools avoided being placed on the recent state Education Department’s list of struggling schools, while graduation rates for the high school also climbed to 72 percent last year.
Still, Hazelton said, more needs to be done to boost state test scores for the district’s children and prepare them for the job market beyond the school, noting that “the schools are not where we need to be” in terms of state assessments and Regents passing grades.
To that end, Hazelton pointed to the district partnering with Nassau Community College this fall to test students’ educational needs and deficit areas through Accuplacer, a college placement exam that tests math, writing and reading levels. The district would use the program to target and help juniors and seniors in high school struggling in certain learning areas.
The district is also working on hiring more bilingual teachers for the elementary and high schools, and creating new programs for the district’s bilingual children — 44 percent of whom are Hispanic, according to district figures.
To help bolster math scores, Hazelton said, Roosevelt is moving algebra down to the sixth grade so students will be prepared to take the Regents exam in eighth grade. The district started professional development of teachers in January in order to begin teaching algebra to sixth-graders next year.
Having started her career in the district as a substitute teacher in 1996, Hazelton’s road to becoming the district’s top administrator had some turns. After her first stint in Roosevelt, Hazelton spent the next four years working in jobs from lifeguarding to music promotion, to a radio show that featured international hip-hop, to work for the United Nations agency UNESCO.
In 2000, she took a teaching fellowship at struggling PS 309 in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood for five years before returning to Roosevelt in 2005 as a teacher for general education and inclusion.
In October, Hazelton was named interim district superintendent after predecessor Deborah Wortham resigned to manage the East Ramapo, New Jersey, school district. In her new role, which was approved on a 4-0 vote by the school board, Hazelton will earn $200,000 a year.
Willa Scott, vice president of Roosevelt’s Board of Education, praised Hazelton’s appointment.
“I think it’s great; she’s very well-qualified,” said Scott of Hazelton.