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State asked to OK special Hempstead school board election

Diane Goins, with clipboard to the left, and

Diane Goins, with clipboard to the left, and Victoria Culbreath, holding sign, along with a coalition of Hempstead Village community organizations rally to deliver a copy of a petition with about 1,000 community members signatures to the school board. (Oct. 11, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A coalition of 10 Hempstead Village community groups called on the state education commissioner Friday to order a special election to fill the vacant seat on the Hempstead School District Board of Education.

About 30 people rallied Friday outside the district's central administration office before marching to deliver a copy of petitions with about 1,000 signatures to the district clerk.

The vacancy was created when Hempstead Village Deputy Mayor Waylyn Hobbs resigned in July, two years before his school board term was to end; and protesters do not want the school board to make the appointment.

"We want our voices to be heard," said village resident Diane Goins, a member of advocacy group New York Community for Change, who hand-delivered more than 50 pages to the clerk and plans to mail copies of the petitions to the state.

The school board has no plans to, but it can call a special election to fill a vacancy within 90 days after it occurs or appoint someone. The BOCES district superintendent may also fill the vacancy by appointment, or the commissioner can order a special election, state education spokesman Jonathan Burman said. He declined to comment about how commissioner John King Jr. might respond to the petition.

"Because of the possibility that this matter may be brought to the Commissioner for a decision ... I can't comment on actions the Commissioner might consider taking," said Burman, referring to an education law that allows persons to appeal a school district's action to the commissioner for review.."

The all African-American board put out calls in August seeking candidates to fill the vacant seat on the five-member board. Advocates have called for the appointment of a Hispanic person because of the district's nearly 60 percent Hispanic student population. Eleven people submitted a resume and cover letter by the Sept. 26 deadline to express interest in serving on the board, including the coalition's choice, Maribel C. Touré, an X-ray technician and parent of a high school senior.

"The main reason I want to do it is for the Spanish-speaking community," Touré said. "They need somebody that they can trust and the community needs someone who is able to ask questions."


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