Wyandanch High School on Jan 24, 2020. A recent legislative deal...

Wyandanch High School on Jan 24, 2020. A recent legislative deal established monitors for the troubled Hempstead and Wyandanch school districts. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman

The legislative deal to establish monitors for the troubled Hempstead and Wyandanch school districts is a good step forward. But it will be little more than another milepost on a long road of failure if it is not followed by other critical steps.

Outside intervention was needed in both districts. Each has academic, fiscal and governance problems, and each has been beset by issues beyond its control — like an influx of unaccompanied minors and others for whom English is a second language. Neither has shown it can right itself.

State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office agreed to put a single monitor in each district with veto power over district-paid out-of-state travel. That will set a strong disciplinary tone. The monitors will help the districts' school boards draw up fiscal plans, plus an academic plan for Hempstead, and will notify the state education commissioner if they believe a district is violating a plan. The commissioner could order the district to comply.

Importantly, the state Education Department and its commissioner — the department has had three in six months — need to be more than a reluctant watchdog. The department still is haunted by its checkered takeover of the Roosevelt district in 2002, but when action is required in this new structure, it will need to show both bark and bite.

And both boards of education, which have long resisted help from "outsiders," must work with their monitors to right their school systems. Anger and resentment will stymie success. The boards owe the children of Hempstead and Wyandanch, whom they have failed for so long, their full energy and cooperation to provide the education these students need and deserve.

— The editorial board