HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The fate of the struggling Hempstead school district in now in the hands of a federal judge.
Late Tuesday, the ousted superintendent took his case to court.
He claims he was suspended for unearthing corruption.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, Dr. Shimon Waronker came to Hempstead to improve outcomes in the classroom, but is now pleading his case in a courtroom.
He claims he was ousted by a school board trying to silence a whistleblower.
“I need to be back so I can continue to do the work to help 8,000 students, root out corruption that’s getting in the way,” he said.
He provided a scathing review of the district in court documents.
“Decades of entrenched, incompetent, and neglectful leadership resulting in a disastrous educational system,” he claims.
Waronker also pointed to deplorable facilities, illegal hiring practices, patronage and nepotism — including 129 people who are not active employees on the payroll, only 25 percent of seniors are on a path graduate, and more than a third of the senior class dropped out while the district continued to bill the state.
“I have never seen what I saw in Hempstead — that students who fail algebra are promoted to geometry and who fail geometry are promoted into trigonometry.
“What’s at stake here seriously is whether Hempstead is going to change its ways or not. This is a crossroads,” attorney Fred Brewington said.
His federal suit claims a violation of free speech and due process.
Supporters packed the courtroom on Tuesday.
“This man came up with a plan to help these children they haven’t had for years, and now they want to get rid of him — so what are they hiding?” one woman asked.
School board trustees said the ouster had nothing to do with retaliation, but was based on Waronker’s unethical conduct.
The judge said he could rule on the superintendent’s case as early as Tuesday night.