HEMPSTEAD - The New York State Education Department has released a scathing audit that found Hempstead teachers inflated grades from failing to passing on a massive scale.

According to a new report from the state Regents, more than 2,000 grades were changed for nearly 1,300 Hempstead High School students last year. The audit found only 8 percent of those changes could be reasonably explained.

Randy Stith, a 23-year-old volunteer firefighter who is running for the school board, says he holds Superintendent Susan Johnson and the school board responsible.

Last year, the district graduated only 38 percent of its seniors while also spending $3,400 more per student than the average Long Island district, according to Roger Tiles, of the New York Regents Board. He also says there is a major problem with absenteeism.

Superintendent Johnson released a statement saying they conducted an investigation into allegations of grade inflation when state officials released their preliminary audit findings in January. She says they have developed a new grading policy that addresses the problems uncovered by the audit, as well as additional issues uncovered by their own internal investigation.