Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Time to fire Hempstead's school superintendent

Hempstead School District Superintendent Susan Johnson, seen speaking

Hempstead School District Superintendent Susan Johnson, seen speaking at a district meeting in 2013. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Another tumultuous school year is over and it's time for Hempstead's board of education to issue a report card for superintendent Susan Johnson. Give her an F, for firing.

The task of turning around the troubled district is formidable. We have criticized Hempstead for its revolving door of top leadership -- firings and hirings engineered by a previous board. The turbulence has made progress so much harder that we're wary of calling for more change. But the time is right. Johnson, fired twice before, has had three tenures as superintendent -- with little improvement to show for it.

She presided over last fall's debacle of failing to register and educate immigrant children. She was cited by the state comptroller for not reporting a drastic salary increase arranged by a former board president. Safety issues were exposed in an assault on a middle school teacher by a parent and a student. Board members -- including election foes Maribel Touré and Shelley Brazley -- complained of a lack of communication from Johnson on such issues as the firing of 60 employees and the possibility the state could intervene in running the middle and high schools.

The board announced in November a search for a new superintendent; Johnson's term expires next year. President Lamont Johnson -- no relation -- has been reluctant to pay another salary by firing her before then. That's understandable from a cost perspective but shortsighted in terms of the need to properly teach Hempstead's children.

The board holds its annual reorganization meeting next week. That's a good time to act. Hempstead needs a proven educator at the helm with experience in reviving struggling schools and an openness to new ideas and solutions. Alas, that's not Susan Johnson.