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Editorial: Hempstead school leaders need to be accountable

The Hempstead Public Schools summer reading list has

The Hempstead Public Schools summer reading list has more than 30 errors, including misspellings of 'The Great Gatsby,' David McCullough and Frederick Douglass.

A Hempstead school district official merely said that "unfortunate clerical errors" led to a botched summer reading list with dozens of misspelled books and authors, adding that the employee who produced the list was reprimanded. That answer earns a failing grade, one that even Hempstead administrators can't round up.

The district didn't release the employee's name or title at a short news conference Thursday. It didn't specify what disciplinary action had been taken. It didn't clarify how such blatant incompetence made it up the administrative ladder and into students' hands.

And after all that, the district's spokeswoman didn't take questions. For a story that embarrassed Hempstead nationwide, even the attempt at damage control was inept.

The Hempstead district is rife with systemic problems that range from an incapable administration to a dysfunctional school board. Students are left to pick up the pieces, and they understandably struggle to do so.

It's one thing if a low-level aide made a handful of typos. But it's a much more serious error if a librarian, teacher or administrator signed off on a reading list that suggests students read "The Great Gypsy."

Officials should detail just how a reading list ironic to the point of parody went unnoticed on all levels. And parents deserve to know how far up the line that laziness, ignorance or stupidity extended.

Top district officials obviously don't want to get into the details. The same can be said about their explanations of bigger failures.

In a school system starving for accountability, someone needs to step up and take responsibility for administrative breakdowns, big and small.