Good Morning
Good Morning
Long IslandNassau

Two Hempstead school trustees say superintendent should resign

Hempstead School District Superintendent Susan Johnson addresses the

Hempstead School District Superintendent Susan Johnson addresses the community during a presentation at a public board meeting, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Hempstead school Superintendent Susan Johnson should resign from her post because of the disorganization that left scores of high school students without class schedules at the start of the school year, two trustees contend.

School board members Maribel Touré and Gwendolyn Jackson said in a memo to the board and to the schools chief dated Sept. 2 that Johnson embarrassed herself and the district and should step down immediately.

"The fact that you allowed this to happen and did not properly plan during the summer for this eventuality is a clear demonstration of your lack of leadership and inability to plan," they wrote. "Your performance is an embarrassment to our school, your profession and for our district."

Johnson, who has added powers now that two of the district's schools have been placed in receivership by the state after years of poor academic performance, did not return calls for comment.

A spokesman for Hempstead schools said the district was in receipt of Touré and Jackson's letter. The memo does not have any legal consequence for the superintendent; the board would have to vote in open session in favor of her dismissal for her to be removed.

Touré, reached by phone Tuesday, said she might bring up the issue for a vote in the future but would not do so now because there is not enough support for it to pass.

Trustee Ricky Cooke said he has seen the letter but had no comment on it. The other three board members, including Jackson, did not respond to requests for comment.

Two administrators in the district -- James Clark, associate superintendent for secondary curriculum and instruction, and Stephen Strachan, high school principal -- apologized at last week's board meeting for the scheduling woes.

High school students interviewed by Newsday on Sept. 1, the first day of class, said they had to sit in the school's auditorium for hours because they did not have schedules.

Such problems are not new to the district. Last year, a dozen students interviewed on opening day said they were asked to leave campus for several hours because their schedules were not ready.

Also last fall, Hempstead High School came under intense state scrutiny for turning away scores of immigrant children -- many of them unaccompanied minors from Central America who had entered the country illegally and were resettled with relatives or sponsors -- saying they had run out of space and teachers.

The district was required by the state to hire an ombudsman to alleviate those issues and revise its registration and other enrollment procedures.

In addition to those troubles, the last two school board elections have been contentious.

The district, in a petition to the state, has challenged Touré's and Jackson's May election to the board. Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia is expected to decide the matter in the coming months.

The district is one of four on Long Island where schools have been placed in receivership under a new state law.

Hempstead High School is categorized as "persistently struggling" for having failed to meet state standards for more than a decade, and Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School was listed as "struggling" for three consecutive years of poor performance.

The schools must show improvement within specific time periods or Elia can direct the school board to appoint an independent manager.

Nassau top stories