Hempstead Voters Replace School Board President, OK Budget

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Two challengers aligned with the troubled Hempstead School Board’s majority unseated a pair of self-described reformer incumbents in Tuesday’s elections in a vote that required a New York State Education Department monitor.

Carmen Ayala and Patricia Spleen ousted School Board President Maribel Touré and Vice President Gwendolyn Jackson by a reported margin of about 200 votes each. Voters also approved a 6 percent budget increase and a $46.8 million bond to replace the shuttered Marguerite G. Rhodes School and get hundreds of elementary school students out of aging modular classrooms.

The same day, voters approved budget measures in all but two of Long Island’s 124 school districts. Spending measures were rejected in the Uniondale and the North Bellmore school districts.

Spleen and Ayala will join Hempstead school board members David Gates, LaMont Johnson and Randy Stith, a village police officer who was recently pleaded not guilty to charges of alleged fraud.

The school board turnover comes as the district is defending itself against a lawsuit filed by its suspended superintendent, and a leaked internal audit suggested a string of questionable payments.