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Long IslandEducation

Hempstead HS principal injured in student fight; two arrested

Principal Kenneth Klein was hurt when he intervened, police said. A new state report said 50-plus fights have happened at the school since September.

Two students were arrested at Hempstead High, seen

Two students were arrested at Hempstead High, seen here on Jan. 6, 2018. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The principal at Hempstead High School was injured Friday while breaking up a fight between students, and two students were arrested, village police said.

Principal Kenneth Klein was taken to a local hospital with bruises to his midsection, Det. Sgt. Derek Warner said.

The fighting occurred shortly before noon on a day that had two altercations at the troubled school and several police officers dispatched there, he said.

“There was a disturbance between other students and the principal intervened and suffered injuries,” Warner said.

A security guard also was injured and taken to a hospital, according to a Hempstead district official who asked not to be named.

Police were investigating whether the participants were gang members.

Calls to Acting Superintendent Regina Armstrong and school board members were not returned Friday. Klein, 50, declined to comment when reached by phone Friday afternoon.

The brawling marked another disturbing day for a district that has been criticized, scrutinized and ordered to improve by state education leaders. It came after state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa visited the district Thursday and met privately with each of the five school board members, an extraordinary move that reflected the urgent need for change.

Afterward, the board met Thursday night and passed three resolutions, but nothing dealing with the state’s demands for major reform.

The school violence also capped a tumultuous period during which the school board, in a 3-2 vote, placed Superintendent Shimon Waronker on administrative leave. Waronker’s attorney has questioned the action and said legal action may be taken.

Hempstead High School, one of the lowest-performing secondary schools in the state, has been plagued by fights and gang violence.

More than 50 fights have taken place at the high school since September, according to a new report by veteran Long Island educator Jack Bierwirth — appointed by Elia to examine district operations.

The school of 2,500 students is the only one on Long Island categorized as “persistently struggling” by the state.

Bierwirth’s report, released Monday, criticized school officials for not making students’ safety a priority.

“Students must have a safe and secure environment in which to learn, and the adults governing the district must make this their absolute priority,” the report said.

It added that this “has not occurred to date.”

With Ellen Yan and John Hildebrand

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