Scathing state report blames administration for Hempstead schools' dysfunction

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A scathing report from a state-appointed supervisor that chronicles what's wrong with Hempstead Union Free School District places most of the blame on the administration. 

The report was written by Jack Bierwirth, a consultant appointed by the state education commissioner, in an attempt to get a handle on what many say is an out-of-control district.

MORE ON NEWSDAY: State-appointed adviser blames Hempstead district’s leadership

According to the report, "Governance is the single most significant barrier to the district focusing its efforts and resources on the education of its students, which should be of paramount concern."

Newsday reporter John Hildebrand, who has been covering education on Long Island for 45 years, called the district "chaotic."

"I've never seen a superintendent and board members fight with each other so much in public," said Hildebrand. 

Hempstead is the largest school district in Nassau, serving 8,000 students. According to state statistics, it has dropout rate of over 30 percent and a low graduation rate. School board members change frequently and there is another new superintendent who took the unusual step of publishing an open letter to the community expressing his frustration at attempts to derail his ability to turn the district around.

In the new report, the advisor addresses 10 critical areas of concern and makes specific recommendations. Almost every aspect of the school district is listed, including administration, finances, security and building maintenance.  

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has given the district a Feb. 2 deadline to submit a response plan. She says, "School district leaders and Board of Education members must work with Dr. Bierwirth to adopt the report's recommendations and implement its action steps."

News 12 reached out to several school board members and the superintendent's office, but they did not respond. 

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