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Hempstead school board answers call for diversity

Hempstead High School is at 201 President St.

Hempstead High School is at 201 President St. (Nov. 28, 2011) Photo Credit: JC Cherubini

The Hempstead School District board of education has put out calls seeking qualified candidates to fill the vacant seat on the five-member board, after critics touted the recent vacancy as a chance to improve diversity.

An announcement has been posted on the district's website, indicating candidate qualifications, based on state education law.

"The notice has gone out to all of the local newspapers, including the Spanish publications and will also be posted on social media directly," district spokesman Nathan Jackson said in an email.

Candidates must submit a resume and cover letter to district clerk Patricia Wright by Sept. 26. The board will then hold interviews to fill the vacancy, after reviewing the submissions, according to the notice.

Requirements include having the ability to read and write, and being a qualified voter of the district, an American citizen, at least 18 years old, a district resident for at least a year and not be a felon.

The notice also states the candidate may not have been removed from any school district office within the preceding year, may not be a current district employee, and may not live with or be in the immediate family of a school board member.

The move came after advocates with the Hempstead Promise Neighborhoods, a coalition of community leaders and residents, called earlier this month for the board to appoint a Hispanic trustee to the position vacated in July when Hempstead Village Deputy Mayor Waylyn Hobbs resigned two years before his term ended.

"It seems to me that they are asking for candidates because there has been pressure from the community to appoint a Hispanic," said George Siberón, executive director of Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, adding he will recruit potential candidates. "I don't believe that the board has a clear regards for . . . the Latino community and the community at large."

Critics from two community groups held a protest last week, highlighting the board's need for Hispanic representation and complaining the district offers no translators at board meetings. They cited the district's nearly 60 percent Hispanic student population, compared to a board made up of all African-Americans.

"They need someone who understands and works with the Hispanic community. They don't have to be Hispanic," said village resident Diane Goins, adding New York Communities for Change is seeking potential candidates.

School board president Betty Cross has said the board would seek candidates from any ethnic group to fill the vacancy.

And in response to complaints, district officials said translators would be available at future board meetings.

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