A summer reading list for a Long Island school district has some unusual recommendations for its students. “The Great Gypsy” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and authors, George Ornell and Emily Bonte, to name a few.
In a list for students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, the Hempstead Public Schools summer reading list has more than 30 mistakes, Newsday reports. Misspellings include authors' names and book titles.
Roger Tilles, a member of the New York State Department of Education’s Board of Regents, blames the school’s administration.
"It indicates again that a stable administration is absolutely essential for kids to get the kind of education they need," he said in a statement. "Hempstead has not had a stable administration for a long time and the kids are suffering."
Hempstead Public Schools has been one of Long Island’s worst-performing school systems, Newsday reports. During the 2011-2012 academic year, the district held a 38 percent graduation rate – the lowest in Long Island’s 124 public school districts.
Earlier this month, the school board announced it would be rehiring Hempstead school district Superintendent Susan Johnson. Her salary, which would peak at $265,000 by 2016, has stirred controversy.
"Why should you be paying someone that much money?" parent Tanya Thomas told News 12 Long Island. "They should put more money into education."
Hempstead has had a long history of administrative problems. In 2005, Johnson was fired while the district owed $6 million in unpaid bills to suppliers. Other Hempstead school administrators have been convicted of larceny, accused of financial scandals and allegations of corruption, the New York Times reports.
Problems have been brewing for decades. In 1990, Hempstead High School was listed as one of the state's failing schools. The district went through four district superintendents in one year and census data showed 17 percent of school-aged children in the town lived below the poverty line.
That same year, the high school was closed for some time for an asbestos contamination. In 2004, a blackboard fell, revealing more asbestos in the walls. The school was closed for a week.
''We're looking at a lethal combination of governance, academic and financial problems,'' James Kadamus, former deputy commissioner at the New York State Education Department, said in 2005 following Johnson’s ouster.
In April, Johnson said she’s committed to revitalizing the ailing school district. “The district is returning to basics,” she said. “It’s every job title in this district working together to make this dream come true.”