Mary Jones, superintendent of the Wyandanch School District, during an...

Mary Jones, superintendent of the Wyandanch School District, during an interview in Wyandanch on July 1, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

Wyandanch district officials have chosen a middle school principal, parents, a board member and representatives from the unions for teachers, administrators and support staff to make up the team created to help steer the middle school out of receivership.

At a meeting at the district's main office Friday, Superintendent Mary Jones said the team is expected to grow to include community stakeholders, such as representatives from local nonprofit organizations and area government as well as nearby colleges and universities.

It is the start of a process to transform Milton L. Olive Middle School, which the state placed in receivership last month.

The district is sending a letter to the state Education Department outlining the names of members of its Community Engagement Team, or CET, which is required by the state and is expected to recommend school improvement.

Its members include school Principal Kenya Vanterpool, board member Shirley Baker and PTA president Daphne Marsh. Student members will be named after school starts.

"This is a journey -- a two-year journey -- and we will be climbing some difficult steps," Jones said Thursday night at a meeting for middle school parents to explain receivership and what steps the district must take.

Milton L. Olive Middle School was among four Long Island middle schools designated as "struggling" and put in receivership status last month after falling short of state and federal standards for three consecutive years. The other schools are in the Central Islip, Hempstead and Roosevelt districts.

A fifth receivership school on the Island, Hempstead High School, was designated as "persistently struggling," meaning it failed to meet state and federal standards for at least a decade.

The Hempstead district is scheduled to hold public hearings Saturday to give residents information about the receivership process. The hearing about the high school is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. in the high school auditorium, and the hearing on the middle school is at 11 a.m. in that school's "band box" room.

Statewide, 144 schools were placed in receivership, which gives local administrators special powers to oversee putting the targeted campuses back in good standing.

Wyandanch's middle school is under receivership for two years. If demonstrable improvements are not made, an outside manager could be called in. At Thursday's hearing, parents and staff said they do not want to lose local control.

The school, which served grades 6 through 8, had 442 students in the 2013-14 school year, the latest figures available from the Education Department. The district plans to add fifth grade when school starts Sept. 8.

In a letter sent to parents last month, Jones noted that as superintendent she likely will be named the school's receiver for the two-year period.

All four Island districts with schools in receivership were required to submit plans to the state outlining how they will improve student performance. Jones said details of Milton L. Olive Middle School's plan, which she called a "fluid document" that can change, will be presented to the school board Wednesday for approval and then released publicly.

In Roosevelt, officials have said they will challenge the state's "struggling" designation, arguing significant improvements have been made.

Marsh, the middle school PTA president, said she will work to boost parental involvement and is confident the school can be turned around.

"We are going to be working really hard and we would like to get out of receivership in one year," she said.

Latest videos

Newsday LogoYour Island. Your Community. Your News.Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months