Superintendent's battle with board members laid bare in open letter

Posted: Updated:
The superintendent of Hempstead schools sent an open letter to the community appealing for support as he says his efforts to overhaul the low-performing district are being blocked. The superintendent of Hempstead schools sent an open letter to the community appealing for support as he says his efforts to overhaul the low-performing district are being blocked.

The superintendent of Hempstead schools sent an open letter to the community appealing for support as he says his efforts to overhaul the low-performing district are being blocked.

Superintendent Shimon Waronker sent the letter to parents in the district over the weekend, blasting the school board for allegedly derailing his plan to turn the troubled district around. He accuses the board's new majority of firing special investigators who were “looking at abuse, mismanagement and corruption."

Waronker says his troubles with the school board escalated when board member Lamont Johnson was reinstated to his position on the school board in November. The superintendent says he hired some expert teachers to help improve the district, but the board fired those teachers, and he says it also blocked his efforts to tear down the Rhodes administrative building and replace it with a new school.

"The budget of Hempstead is $200 million to service 8,000 students, so we're not talking that the district doesn't have the funds. So how come the funds aren't going to the kids?" Waronker says.

Board member Lamont Johnson says the letter is "totally false," and blames the superintendent for failing to produce a facilities plan.

Johnson says he believes that a bond for school improvements should be put on the ballot in May to avoid the costs of holding a special vote.

Maribel Toure, another member of the board who backs the superintendent, says she's fed up with the state of the district. "We have failing grades, we have falling apart buildings, we have overcrowded classrooms, we don't have transportation for kids in Hempstead, and nothing is being done,” she says.

A “weather-related emergency” closed Barack Obama Elementary School on Monday. Just last week, three schools in the district were closed due to plumbing and heating issues.

The Hempstead School Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday.

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