School board meeting shuts out Hempstead residents

The school board put out a notice stating the meeting would begin at 5 p.m. When the door to the meeting room at Hempstead High finally opened, School Board President Betty Cross said the meeting was over. (6/23/14)

HEMPSTEAD - Hempstead residents were angry after waiting more than 2 ½ hours for a public school board meeting to begin, only to find out an executive session was held behind closed doors.

The school board put out a notice stating the meeting would begin at 5 p.m. When the door to the meeting room at Hempstead High finally opened, School Board President Betty Cross said the meeting was over.

The board's attorney told the crowd of 45 that the board voted behind closed doors to undo last week's vote to investigate Superintendent Susan Johnson's professional conduct.

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As News 12 reported, chaos erupted at last Thursday's school board meeting when Cross abruptly adjourned the meeting after dozens of protesters demanded she step down. The lights  were turned out, forcing many of the attendees to make their way to the exits using cellphones to light their way.

One audience member told News 12 that Cross cut the lights to silence the protestors.

Critics say they will call on the state education commissioner to investigate the Hempstead school board president. They also plan to challenge the board's closed door vote in court.

The graduation rate was only 38 percent last year, and Hempstead is one of the state's lowest performing districts.

A protest involving 200 teachers is expected to take place outside the Hempstead school administration building Tuesday regarding the 47 teachers recently laid off.

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