SEPTEMBER 2019 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 17
POINT OF VIEW
HOPE FOR HEMPSTEAD
BY TAYLOR DARLING
New York State Assemblymember
The Hempstead Union Free School
District has struggled for years to
gain stability due to severe issues
with fiscal accountability, transparency,
curriculum development, accurate
grade reporting, and security.
Children have endured interrupted
education, moldy food, dangerously
unsanitary conditions, vermin,
and classes in dilapidated trailers.
Currently, students do not have bus
transportation to and from school.
Some of our students walk up to 2.8
miles to and from school daily.
This is not how any child deserves
to live, especially when their school
district has a $222,000,000 budget.
The graduation rate dropped to 37
percent a few years ago. Dismal graduation
numbers pave the path to poverty
and where there is poverty there
is usually crime. In the Hempstead
district, the educational environment
fuels the school-to-prison pipeline.
This is a huge problem for New
York State. Hempstead is one of the
worst-performing school districts
in the country. This is why state Sen.
Kevin Thomas (D-Garden City) and
I introduced unprecedented legislation
to support the Hempstead School
District. This decision was fueled by
the final report from a state-appointed
distinguished educator who cited
that despite some improvements,
governance remained a major issue.
The legislation would appoint a panel
of three monitors with veto power to
provide oversight and guidance to the
school district. This panel would work
with the Hempstead School Board of
Education and the superintendent to
create fiscal, educational, and operational
plans to improve the school
district. The monitors would be
state-funded subject matter experts.
The state of the Hempstead School
District is all of our problem. It is
devastating that we have allowed
the district to veer so far off course.
We would never allow the school
districts surrounding Hempstead
to suffer for a school year, let alone
more than 25 school years.
We need an effective long-term plan
that brings immediate shifts in the right
direction. I firmly believe this legislation
is an integral part of the plan. The
legislation passed both the state Senate
and Assembly. We need the governor’s
signature so we can hire monitors ASAP
and start improving the school district
for our children. This matter is time
sensitive and we need your support.
Please contact Gov. Andrew Cuomo
and urge him to sign this bill into law.
“We need the governor’s signature
so we can hire monitors ASAP.”
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