Hempstead schools reach 86% graduation rate, ending nearly a decade-long state receivership

Hempstead High School and Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School will be out of state receivership by the end of June and are now considered in good standing.
The accomplishment comes after nearly a decade of hard work and dedication.
The schools entered state-mandated receivership in 2015 due to underperformance and low graduation rates.
Since then, they have drastically improved graduation rates and morale. District leaders and staff celebrated the robust achievement on Monday and were proud to say they will no longer be looked down upon with "negativity."
Students attributed their hard work to the support of their teachers, some of whom gave up their Saturdays to help kids stay on track.
"I think that a major part would be the teachers here because they have honestly put in a lot of effort," said junior Marcela Romero. "They've been a very big support system, especially for the students who don't really have a lot of outlets."
Hempstead schools have been considered "low-performing" in the state for over 30 years.
At the time of receivership, less than 40% of Hempstead High School students graduated with a Regents Diploma according to data from the State Education Department. 
Over the next seven years, the high school graduation rate jumped to 86% and 61% of students graduated with a Regents Diploma. 
"It took consistent leadership with everybody having a common goal," said School Board President Randy Stith. "Even though the board hands have changed, everybody kept a common goal of students first in mind, get integrated and that's what led to today's success."
To reach good standing with the state, the district added more support in classrooms to help English language learners. They also implemented Regents-level algebra for eighth graders to better prepare them for high school. District leaders say their new independence will only maintain momentum.
"A lot of more hard work, giving our students more choice into their learning environment, making them become critical thinkers and ready for not only the world they live in, but the global world," said Superintendent Regina Armstrong.