Hempstead School Board President Lamont Johnson, left, with clerk Patricia...

Hempstead School Board President Lamont Johnson, left, with clerk Patricia Wright, right, named the board's choice of Khalid Lateef to be hired as the district's ombudsman, as mandated by the state earlier this year, at a school board meeting on Thursday, May 14, 2015. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Hempstead school board Thursday night selected Khalid Lateef to serve as enrollment ombudsman as part of a settlement agreement it entered earlier this year with the state attorney general's office.

The office must approve of the board's choice, so a start date has not been determined.

Board president Lamont Johnson said that Lateef, whose annual salary will be $120,000 prorated, did a similar job for the Uniondale school district and that he was the most qualified candidate.

Maribel Toure was the only board member who voted against him. "I'm not convinced," she said after the meeting.

The district came under scrutiny in the fall after it failed to enroll 33 unaccompanied minors at the start of the school year. Advocates, the students and their parents say the children -- many of whom arrived without proper documentation last summer from Central America -- were turned away for weeks and told the district had run out of room and teachers for them. Some were put on wait-lists; many were not seated for weeks or months.

State law entitles all people between the ages of 5 and 21 to attend public school in the district in which they live. Federal law entitles all children to public education regardless of their immigration status. Administrators have said they were overwhelmed with the influx. More than 1,500 new students arrived this school year and roughly 1,000 needed English language services, superintendent Susan Johnson has said.

An extensive investigation from the attorney general's office completed in March found numerous problems with the district's enrollment procedures and prompted the call for reform.

Lamont Johnson said the board was looking for "someone with knowledge of registration and enrollment who can make sure we are in compliance with the rules, guidelines and laws concerning registration." The board president is not related to the superintendent.

The district last month selected a center affiliated with New York University to serve as an independent monitor of its reforms. The Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity will help Hempstead monitor the district's progress in removing enrollment barriers and report the progress to the attorney general's office.

Cheryl Wyche, a parent who happened to arrive at the high school as the meeting was taking place Thursday night, said the board should have done a better job notifying residents about Thursday's gathering.

There was no one in attendance Thursday night aside from the media.

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