A 37% high school graduation rate.

It’s one of the lowest in America, on par with juvenile justice centers and a handful of the nation’s poorest inner city schools.

Welcome to Hempstead, Long Island.

Despite hundreds of millions of public dollars spent every year, the Hempstead School District has been called a disastrous educational system.

In this Special Production, CBS2 News spends a full academic year behind the scenes, following the accomplished educator who came in with a plan to change the fate of the students and reverse chronic reputed mismanagement.

How did he fare?

Watch the dramatic unraveling of a plan as he is “schooled” in one of the few public educational systems in America of its size where only half of the students graduate — in a good year.

What were we thinking?

A word from reporter Carolyn Gusoff:

I cover a region where most teenagers graduate from high school – about 90%. It is a given that you’re going to get a good public education – you are going to graduate.

But there was always the curious and troubling case of the Hempstead School District – where the numbers defied logic. Taxpayers were spending more per pupil than most places in the country – and yet the results are shocking, year after year, a graduation rate that’s one of the lowest in the nation.

Then last year, in came a new educator with a Harvard doctorate and a record of turning around struggling schools. There was hope for one of the worst performing school districts in America.”

But there was also division.

Why? Who wouldn’t welcome change and improvement? That’s what we wanted to know. So we did something you rarely see in local television news: a very deep dive into a very complex subject.

We have spent the last year in Hempstead, and we were “schooled.” In fact, lots of folks in this heartbreaking story are schooled in the dynamics and dysfunction of an educational system that’s arguably failed generations of students.

Our story begins and ends with a 37 percent graduation rate. In between, discover what became of the educator and his grand plans to turn around Hempstead Schools.

Access Our Research

Sampling of Hempstead’s past:
Audits, Reviews and Facilities Assessments

Dr. Shimon Waronker’s Plans For The Hempstead School District

LaMont Johnson’s return to the Board of Education after ouster

“Distinguished Educator” Demands “Course of Action” and Hempstead Board of Education’s Response

Waronker Takes Hempstead To Court To Be Reinstated

Hempstead Board of Education’s Response to Waronker’s Legal Action

New York State’s Review of Student’s Transcripts 2018

Trustee Randy Stith Criminal Case

The Numbers: How Hempstead’s Graduation Rate Compares

* U.S. Department of Education 2015-2016 Graduation Statistics for Public Schools with cohorts over 300 students and 4-year (on time) graduation rates under 50%. (Note many “Office of Education” entries are juvenile justice or special needs schools.)

School Board Charges vs. Waronker

Criminal Cases Against Hempstead School Employees

Hempstead School District Sues “New American Initiative”

Ongoing Coverage On CBS New York

Photos: A Look Inside Hempstead Schools

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