Hempstead SD lawsuit details revealed at board meeting

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HEMPSTEAD -

The Hempstead School Board met Tuesday night to address this year's proposed budget, but details about a new lawsuit in the district were also revealed.

The lawsuit was filed against the school district and its two minority voting members, Maribel Toure and Gwendolyn Jackson. The claim by the plaintiffs, who are district residents, is that up to $400,000 in taxpayer funds were wasted trying to get majority trustee Lamont Johnson off the board.

"The citizens must have been concerned...and they think their money was used inappropriately to force me from the board," Johnson said.

This is happening shortly after a preliminary audit highlighted questionable spending by the school board.

Last month, trustee Randy Stith, who also works as a Hempstead police officer, was indicted for allegedly stealing funds from a volunteer fire department.

"This is a distraction, and an unnecessary expense," said Toure, who's the school board president.

Toure and Jackson meanwhile say it's no coincidence the lawsuit comes as the board finds itself wrapped up in controversy. They say the only people who will wind up losing are the students.

"We're diverting money from our children," Jackson said. "We're spending it on lawyers -- this is just a frivolous lawsuit. It's not going to go anywhere."

The lawsuit is ordering Toure and Jackson to appear at Nassau County Supreme Court within 20 days.

"The removal of the trustee was a ridiculous move, it was a power move, and it was at the expense of the taxpayers of the community," said Shelly Brazley, a plaintiff. "And we have to come to the point where enough is enough."

Both Toure and Jackson are up for re-election next week.

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