HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The New York State Assembly passed a bill late Thursday night calling for state intervention in the Hempstead school system.
The bill, which passed unanimously, will affect the district’s 10 schools, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports.
Hempstead schools have struggled for years, and recently the graduation rate dropped as low as 37 percent – one of the lowest in the country.
“This is tragic. This is not how any child deserves to live, especially when they are students in a school district…” Assemblywoman Taylor Raynor said, choking back tears.
The bill gives the state unprecedented monitoring over the school district. For the first time, a three-person panel will have veto power over superintendent selection and spending.
“What they would do is they would work together with the DOE, with the superintendent, come up with a fiscal plan, an academic plan, operation plan, so that we know what it takes, what it will take to push our district where it needs to be for the long-term,” Raynor said.
After being up all night, lawmakers returned to their districts Friday.
“This has been one of the best moments of my whole life to know that we can offer support,” Raynor said.
Supporters of the bill said monitors are needed to verify academic data after years of grades being fudged and to oversee the $215 million budget wasted on infighting.
Some parents are happy action is being taken.
“Much better than a few years ago. I feel good with my daughter’s process,” one parent said
Board members, however, wanted to keep their independence and said more students are now graduating – up to 60 percent. They believe they are making progress on their own.
Hempstead school board trustee Carmen Ayala says they will call on the governor to veto the bill.
“We are asking the governor to not allow state legislation to solve local issues,” she said.
Current trustees call the bill punitive, political and disrespectful.
“There was no communication in the drafting of this bill,” David Gates said.
New York State Roger Tilles says he has watched decades of failure.
“I’m pleased with the legislation … It is putting in a layer of people who I think will be able to stabilize the board and move the kids ahead,” he said.
CBS2 reached out to Cuomo’s office, who said at this point, all they could say was they would be reviewing the bill.
If signed, it would take effect immediately.
The bill proposes the state pay for the panel of monitors.
CBS2 has consistently reported on the failing school district.
“Thank you Carolyn Gusoff and CBS for your incredible documentary about Hempstead school district ‘37%.’ Please, all go and watch it as a cautionary tale,” said Raynor. “Your work spreads awareness about the conditions our children experience.”
Click here to watch 37%, our award-winning documentary on the district’s struggles.