CARLE PLACE - The embattled Hempstead School Board abruptly called off an emergency meeting shortly before it was expected to begin this evening, outraging community members.

In just three days, the school district must respond to a petition alleging voter fraud and misuse of absentee ballots stemming from the May re-election of longtime board member Betty Cross. The state education commissioner has decided that Cross must leave her post until the matter is resolved.

A sign posted at the venue for the meeting, a Carle Place law office, says the purpose of the meeting was to discuss personnel issues.

An attorney for one of the other school board candidates, Fred Brewington, says the fact that the board was not scheduled to take any public comments at the now-canceled meeting raises serious questions. He suggested that the board was preventing the public from having access to its elected officials.

The special meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. in the superintendent's office in Hempstead.

Calls to the district for comment were not returned.