In District Known for Failure, Will the State Finally Step In?

The New York Times: When it comes to educational dysfunction, the Hempstead school district in Nassau County on Long Island is in a class by itself.

For almost 30 years, the district has been failing its students, most of whom are Hispanic and black. During most of that time, a badly divided school board has been at war with itself. Test scores and graduation rates have been among the lowest in the state. School buildings have deteriorated so much that they have closed while children went to school in trailers. And board members have been convicted of theft and fraud.

Still, despite the decades of mismanagement, the State Department of Education has done little beyond issuing threats. Now, amid a new round of infighting and charges of corruption, the education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, has given the district until Friday to submit a plan for how it will turn itself around. But if the board does not come through with a substantive plan, or does not appear prepared to implement it, it is unclear what steps she and the Legislature are prepared to take.

“It’s a zoo,” said Roger Tilles, who represents Long Island on the State Board of Regents. “I’ve been following it for 13 years and it has not gotten any better.”

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