In response to allegations that the district is not educating immigrant students, New York State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. has ordered Nassau BOCES to investigate the enrollment procedures for the Hempstead school district.
The order comes two days after advocates rallied in support of 34 Hispanic students who had not attended classes since the school year started on Sept. 3. Many of the students are among the newly arrived children from Central America.
The mandate centers on children who are recent immigrants and in some cases entered the country illegally as unaccompanied minors. More than 2,500 such youths, who fled poverty and violence in Central America, have been released to relatives or sponsors on Long Island this year.
King’s letter to James T. Langlois, interim superintendent of Nassau BOCES, directed him to report to the commissioner by Oct. 23 with the number of students involved, whether they were being provided instructional services, the specifics of the enrollment process for the students and any other relevant information.
The commissioner’s action is highly unusual, an Education Department spokesman said.
The letter to Langlois noted that the department issued a memo in September to districts statewide, advising them of their “obligations relating to enrollment of unaccompanied minor children,” and citing relevant federal and state laws.
This is the second time this year that the Education Department has had to intervene with the Hempstead school district. This summer, King removed long-time school board trustee Betty Cross over allegations of voter fraud. Cross had reportedly stolen the election from Maribel Touré, who would have been the first Latino to sit on the school board despite Latinos comprising 59 percent of the district’s population.
King also ordered a new election take place to fill the seat vacated by Cross. The election is scheduled for Oct. 28.