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Hempstead school district appeals over firing of principals

The Barack Obama Elementary School in Hempstead in

The Barack Obama Elementary School in Hempstead in 2014. Credit: Google maps

The Hempstead school district has appealed a court ruling that found it had failed to comply with a state law when it fired three principals last year.

The school district filed a notice of appeal last week with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the state of New York, after a Nassau County Supreme Court judge decided last month in favor of the fired principals -- David Evans, Helisse Palmore and James Thomas -- who had sued the district in July.

“As a general rule, the district does not comment upon pending litigation,” spokesman Nathan Jackson said in a statement.

The lawsuit stemmed from the school board voting in April 2013 to dismiss Palmore, then principal of Barack Obama Elementary School; Evans, of the Academy of Music & Art; and Thomas, of the Academy of Business & Law.

Justice Norman Janowitz in Mineola ruled that the school district failed to evaluate the principals as required by a 2010 education law that calls for an “Annual Professional Performance Review” to be a “significant factor” in all employment decisions, including terminations.

“I am confident that the appeal won’t be successful because I think the case is pretty straightforward,” said Michael A. Starvaggi, the attorney for the Council of Administrators and Supervisors. He said the principals are entitled to be reinstated with back pay.

After the dismissals, the school board voted to dissolve its high school three-academy system that started in September 2010 and return to one large high school. It later hired Reginald Stroughn, Hempstead’s principal from 2003 until he retired in 2009, to be executive principal of the high school, along with four assistant principals.

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