Hempstead school board votes in new president, adjourns meeting without any public comment

The board elected Lamont Johnson to replace Betty Cross during Tuesday’s reorganization meeting. Cross wished Johnson luck in his new position. (7/2/14)

HEMPSTEAD - After a month of turmoil, the embattled Hempstead School Board elected a new president.

The board elected Lamont Johnson to replace Betty Cross during Tuesday’s reorganization meeting. Cross wished Johnson luck in his new position.

“I wish you the best and I'm sure you'll do an excellent job as a Hempstead Tiger and I'll support you,” she said.

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Cross then quickly adjourned the meeting before attending residents had a chance to speak.

“We’re not turning people away,” Johnson told News 12. “We don't have to have public participation at every meeting.” He refused to comment any further.

Ricky Cooke and Shelley Brazely were the only two board members who stayed behind.

Tuesday’s vote comes in the middle of the school district's latest string of troubles, including confusion over who was eligible to graduate from high school this year. The school board also recently voted to lay off close to 60 employees.

Hempstead residents also claim the board violated the state's open meeting law by excluding them from a public school board meeting last week. Earlier this month, the lights went out after School Board President Betty Cross adjourned a meeting when dozens of protestors demanded she step down.

Parents and teachers who attended the meeting fear it will be more of the same under the new president. About 100 people attended the meeting.

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