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14 students removed from Hempstead High after fight

Hempstead High School students are dismissed after a

Hempstead High School students are dismissed after a second fight broke out that week. (March 12, 2010) Photo Credit: Karen Wiles Stabile

State education officials said Thursday they plan to help Hempstead school district leaders in efforts to prevent further student unrest in the wake of last week's violence at the high school.

Roger Tilles, Long Island's representative to the Regents Board, declined to comment on specifics but said the state's offer could include personnel and consulting expertise. Tilles said he was assembling a task force to advise Hempstead officials, including Superintendent Patricia Watkins.

"We are trying to give her all the help we can give because we think that the school should be a lot better," Tilles said.

At a meeting Thursday, Watkins and school board president Charles Renfroe explained the district's problems and presented possible solutions to several state officials including state education Commissioner David Steiner, Tilles said.

Since last week's incidents, as many as 14 Hempstead high school students have been removed from the school and sent to a regional BOCES school, Renfroe said.

Last week, Watkins said the recent violence had prompted officials to accelerate plans to open a new alternative high school, hopefully by the end of this month.

Asked Thursday whether the district still hopes to open the school, Renfroe said "potentially." He declined to go into details about Thursday's meeting.

Tilles said state officials hope the state's assistance will help calm the district's tensions. "We are looking for long-term solutions for educational problems . . . we just haven't honed in on them."

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