Good Evening
Good Evening
Long IslandNassau

Maribel Touré, Gwendolyn Jackson deny district's allegations in state filing

From left: Hempstead school board trustees Gwendolyn Jackson

From left: Hempstead school board trustees Gwendolyn Jackson and Maribel Toure are sworn in at a public board meeting, Tuesday, July 7, 2015 amidst challenges to their campaign's legitimacy. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Hempstead school board members Maribel Touré and Gwendolyn Jackson, in a document filed this week with the state Education Department, denied allegations of electioneering, voter intimidation and other campaign malfeasance that the district made in connection with the May 19 vote.

The response by Frederick K. Brewington of Hempstead, the attorney for Touré and Jackson, said the district's petition asking the state education commissioner to overturn the election and set a new board vote should be dismissed.

The 13-page document, which the Education Department said it received Thursday, gave blanket denials to all the allegations.

The district's original petition, filed last month, named as respondents all seven candidates who ran for two at-large seats. The allegations of election irregularities, however, were against only Touré and Jackson.

The two women, who were the top vote-getters in the election, have denied wrongdoing.

An attorney for two other candidates, Shelley Brazley and David Gates, this week filed a separate response with the Education Department. At the time of the election, Brazley was an incumbent on the board.

Jeffrey H. Miller of Lawrence, their lawyer, said the paperwork filed with the state shows that his clients have no knowledge of any wrongdoing. They were named in the action simply because they also ran for board seats, he said.

"We have a horse in the race by virtue our clients were candidates," Miller said Friday. "We have nothing to contribute. We are going to sit back and let this play out, and however it plays out, we are OK with it."

Three remaining candidates -- Caprice Rines, Jeff Spencer and Hans Thevenot -- are representing themselves. They have not filed responses to the district's petition.

The district is expected to submit its response to the latest filings in the coming weeks.

Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who took her seat Monday, will decide the matter.

Elizabeth Berlin, the state's acting education commissioner until Elia took over, earlier refused the district's request for an order delaying Touré's and Jackson's swearing-in on the board.

They were sworn in to three-year terms at the board's meeting on Tuesday.

Mimi Pierre Johnson, Touré's and Jackson's campaign manager, said this week that she hopes the district drops the matter so the school board can move on and start to do the work needed to improve the school system.

Johnson was accused by the district of electioneering, a charge she denies.

Nassau top stories