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Uberti: A sliver lining to Hempstead's embarrassing grade inflation?
The latest plot development in the sad, decades-long saga of Hempstead schools shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Carlos Ramirez, the former director of technology who exposed the district’s grade-inflation policy in June, announced Monday that he plans to sue the school system for wrongful termination.
The Hempstead school board voted 3-1 Thursday to fire Ramirez. But officials at the meeting didn’t specify why and haven’t since. Instead, they vaguely claim the termination was because of poor job performance.
If this were anywhere but Hempstead, those officials could probably be taken at their word. But this is a district with a 38 percent graduation rate, a school board that’s dysfunctional at best and a never-ending administrative merry-go-round. Being a slouch hasn’t been grounds for getting sacked by Hempstead schools before.
Why should it now?
Ramirez very well could have been a dismal worker who blew the whistle to settle a score. The school board also attempted to terminate him at an April meeting but failed, 3-2.
Nevertheless, he and his lawyer consider the termination an act of retribution, alleging a violation of the state’s whistle-blower law. Their lawsuit will seek undisclosed monetary damages.
Such a he-said, she-said exchange is only fitting given Hempstead administrators’ storied tradition of deflecting blame. The forthcoming case’s depositions — sure to make you shake your head — should only buttress that fabled past.
Surrounded by well-performing districts such as Uniondale, Garden City, West Hempstead and Baldwin, Hempstead schools are an island of corruption and mismanagement. For whatever reason, Ramirez was voted off that island.
But he’s not alone. Superintendent Susan Johnson has been fired by the district on multiple occasions — first when she was director of personnel and then less than a year after she was named superintendent for the first time in 2004. If Ramirez is optimistic, he could just look at this as a steppingstone to bigger and better things.