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Hempstead schools superintendent resigns

Dr. Patricia Garcia, superintendent of schools in Hempstead

Dr. Patricia Garcia, superintendent of schools in Hempstead at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Prospect School Bond Project. (May, 14, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Hempstead schools' Superintendent Patricia Garcia is departing the troubled district she joined three years ago.

In a short statement issued on Sunday, the district said that Garcia is resigning effective Friday "to pursue other employment opportunities."

Garcia could not be reached Monday, and the district would not provide details of the terms of Garcia's departure. Garcia's compensation was scheduled to total $310,688 for the 2012-13 school year.

With her hiring in 2009, Garcia became the first Hispanic superintendent of the school district. During her time at the helm, Garcia oversaw the division of the high school -- which in 2011 had the lowest graduation rate on Long Island, at 48 percent -- into three separate college preparatory academies,

She also oversaw the creation of a districtwide kindergarten center at the formerly closed Prospect School, a move to reduce the district's reliance on portable classrooms.

The Panama-born, bilingual Garcia had previously worked as superintendent of two other districts, including in Prince Edward County, Va., and began her career teaching English as a second language in Fairfax County, Va. She came here to a district with long-standing issues of security and low academic performance, as well as a history of superintendents with short tenures.

School board president Betty Cross was not able to be reached for comment Monday. But Waylyn Hobbs, vice president of the school board, said the district likely would appoint an interim superintendent before launching a nationwide search for Garcia's successor.

"I don't believe it's going to have an adverse effect on the district because we're still expecting our assistant superintendents, our principals and our teachers to do their jobs," Hobbs said.

"We just have to continue to do what we've been focusing on doing -- seeing improvement in our academics."

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby expressed disappointment at the announcement.

"I feel she was making inroads into the community," Goosby said. "The kids got to know her. The staff got to know her. All of that's important."

Board member Shelley Brazley said the next superintendent "isn't going to have an easy job."

"It has to be someone innovative," she said. "Someone that's done something outrageous in education . . . The traditional things -- I don't know that they're going to help."

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