Hempstead School District receives good report from DOE after major turnaround

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Hempstead School District’s faculty and students are celebrating after getting a good report card from the state Education Department.

State officials announced the district's high school and middle school made demonstrable improvements during the 2018-19 school year. As a result, the two schools will not face the risk of being turned over to outside managers.

The Hempstead schools came under state scrutiny as needing extensive improvement in July of 2015, under a new state receivership law. Jack Bierwirth was appointed as a special state adviser to the district to oversee its improvement plan.

Acting Superintendent Regina Armstrong says the turnaround took hard work. “We came out with an improvement plan and we've been implementing it since the school year of 2015 and now you're seeing the fruits of the labor of everyone,” she says.

Hempstead had been plagued with an array of troubles, including political infighting on the school board, fights in the schools and the lowest graduation rates on the Island.

Students, like Caval Campbell, were determined to prove people wrong. Campbell says, “It sucks to hear all the stereotypes and the bad things about out school and that's what we've been working on to change.”

Administrators say faculty focused on bringing after school programs to help students achieve.

Elena Ortiz says it's made a huge difference. “They're always here to support us, to say after school and help us with basically anything that we need,” she says.

School administrators say the graduation rate for this past school year is over 60%.

Hempstead faculty members say progress will continue. “We want 100% graduation rate. We think all of our students can do it and make it,” says Hempstead High School Principal Dr. Stephen Strachan.

The district says another measure of its progress is the colleges that are admitting Hempstead students. They say several Hempstead students have been accepted to Harvard, Yale and Princeton in the past two years.

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