TOWN OF HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Friday marked the deadline for Hempstead school officials to submit a plan of action to the New York State Department of Education.

They’re trying to revamp one of the state’s worst performing school districts, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported. But is there anything in the new plan that promises to finally make a difference?

“There are several areas of concern — governance, budget and fiscal operations, school safety and security,” Acting Superintendent Regina Armstrong said Friday.

Under orders from the state, officials are setting out to rebuild the troubled district with protocols that have eluded Hempstead for years. The blueprint for transformation starts with governance.

Web Extra: CBS2 Exclusive: State Education Commissioner Warns Hempstead School Board To Shape Up Or Risk Dismissal

Chaotic meetings will be remedied with school board and superintendent training already underway on open meetings laws.

For chronic violence – student IDs, an upgraded camera system, more safety officers, and an updated code of conduct and attendance policy in a district where one third of the seniors class are no-shows.

To raise the paltry graduation rate – a plan to make a plan this year through focus groups, town hall meetings, parent workshops and a high school leadership team.

All this was rolled out just weeks after a scathing report by a state-appointed monitor, Jack Bierwirth, who says he will help in its implementation.

“I am enormously hopeful, but this isn’t about hopes and it isn’t about plans. It’s whether things are going to get done or not,” he told Gusoff.

Some of the improvements were initiated by Superintendent Shimon Waronker, but shot down by a divided board while he was placed on forced leave. Trustees who helped bring Waronker to Hempstead told CBS2 they are hopeful about the action plan if the state demands accountability.

The plan will now be executed by some of the same administrators who have presided over the district’s shortcomings for years. The difference now is they have milestones to meet, a state monitor reporting to Albany and a very public spotlight on the district.

A spokesperson for the education department says the commissioner will now review the plan and work with the district to ensure it is implemented.


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