HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Administrators brought in to root out corruption in the Hempstead school district have now been ousted, and a principal who was fired has his job back.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, heads continued to roll in the struggling Long Island district — which is under order by New York State to improve.
On Wednesday night, elected trustees — who suspended the superintendent last week — fired more of his team.
“It’s going to take all of us doing this for the sake of our children,” acting superintendent Regina Armstrong said.
They were talking about progress at a Hempstead School Board meeting, but then turned back the clock. The majority on the divided board fired two administrators brought in by a previous board.
“All the people who were brought in to make positive changes are being terminated,” fired principal Kenneth Klein said.
Kelin and a deputy superintendent brought in to turn around one of the lowest performing districts in the state are now out of a job.
The board was warned by the state education commissioner to clean up its act, but has still been allowed to hire and fire.
“They made decisions. I will not second-guess the decision by an elected school board in New York,” commissioner May Ellen Elia said.
Their latest decision undoes the work of Superintendent Shimon Waronker who was removed last week along with attorneys investigating corruption.
“The district is rooted in corruption that’s been persistent for many years,” Kelin said.
Stephen Strachan was restored by the board with back-pay and tenure. The principal was let go in August under investigation for allegedly fudging academic and weapons numbers.
Confiscated weapons were found in his office while he allegedly under-reported school violence.
“Stephen Strachan was harboring weapons used in criminal activity on campus,” former Hempstead School Board Trustee, Melissa Figueroa said.
Figueroa started a petition to bring Waronker and his team back.
“It was clear that Stephen Strachan’s doctorate was bogus. The school is actually a degree mill,” she said.
Principal Strachan did not respond to requests for comment, but CBS2 did speak to a trustee who voted Klein out and Strachan back in.
“We needed someone in there who had control over the school. We needed someone in there who had experience in leading a receivership school,” Randy Stith said, “We had improvement with Dr. Strachan.”
“I feel for the kids of this community. They’ve suffered for many decades under poor leadership,” Kelin said.
Klein was injured while breaking up a school fight. He said he’ll be okay, but worries about the students.
State education officials said they continue to actively engage with district leadership with a distinguished educator appointed. They have given the board until February 2 to make his recommended changes or face possible removal.