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LaMont Johnson’s Hempstead school board hearing to continue

Hempstead school board trustee LaMont Johnson during a

Hempstead school board trustee LaMont Johnson during a special board meeting in the Hempstead High School auditorium on Monday, June 19, 2017. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A closed-door legal hearing to determine the status of Hempstead school board trustee LaMont Johnson — and potentially, control of the five-member panel — is scheduled to continue Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the district’s high school, according to board president Maribel Touré.

The hearing, ordered in a resolution that passed 3-2 on June 8, began Monday at about 8 p.m. and continued for two-and-a-half hours before trustees voted to adjourn for the night.

Johnson has been charged by the board’s three-member majority with revealing a list of Hempstead district employees and their addresses, in violation of district rules. Allegedly, the list was used for electioneering by one of Johnson’s political allies, Randy Stith, who won a board seat in May by beating incumbent Melissa Figueroa.

Johnson, who appeared to have the overwhelming support of about 40 district employees and residents who attended Monday’s special meeting, called the hearing a “witch hunt,” “kangaroo court” and “public assassination of my character.”

“This is a blatant attempt to overthrow an election to usurp my powers,” said Johnson, who said he had been falsely accused.

Hempstead’s board is dominated by Touré, Figueroa and Gwendolyn Jackson. The political balance is likely to shift on July 1, after Figueroa steps down from the panel and Stith takes her place. David Gates is the other member of the five-person panel.

Should the current majority succeed in its effort to oust Johnson, it could result in yet another shift of control in a district that has long seen frequent changes in leadership.

Touré, Figueroa and Jackson support the district’s new superintendent, Shimon Waronker, a former New York City education administrator with a reputation for turning around failing schools. Waronker’s selection in May was opposed by Johnson and Gates.

Hempstead is closely monitored by the state Education Department because the district’s high school and its middle school are listed among the lowest achieving academically in New York State.

The district has 8,500 students in prekindergarten, kindergarten, six elementary schools, the middle school and the high school and a $202.7 million budget for the 2017-18 school year.

The Hempstead district’s website on Tuesday also showed notices for “special meetings” on Friday and on June 27, both at 6 p.m.

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