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September 14, 2017
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JP O'Hare

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Commissioner Elia Names Distinguished Educator For Hempstead Union Free School District

State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia appointed Dr. Jack Bierwirth as a Distinguished Educator (DE) to the Hempstead Union Free School District (Hempstead UFSD), the Department announced today.

“With a distinguished educator on board, Hempstead will have some much-needed assistance in developing and implementing plans to carry out its responsibilities to ensure every child in the district receives the education they deserve,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “Dr. Bierwirth has the knowledge, experience and skill to be a meaningful partner with the school board and district for the benefit of all children in the district’s low-performing schools.” 

“For far too many years, the Hempstead School District has struggled to address a myriad of issues relating to school governance and instruction that have created impediments to student learning,” Commissioner Elia said. “Dr. Bierwirth will help the district develop and implement improvement plans to address the needs of students in Hempstead’s lowest performing schools.”

Vice Chancellor of the Board of Regents T. Andrew Brown said, “The appointment of Jack Bierwirth as a Distinguished Educator underscores the commitment of the Board of Regents and the State Education Department to partner with the Hempstead community to create a new, brighter future for the students of Hempstead.”

Over the last several years, the Hempstead UFSD has experienced significant academic and school governance issues, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Identification as a Focus District because of low academic performance since 2012-13 
  • Identification as a District in Need of Intervention under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act since the 2011-12 school year because of low academic performance of students with disabilities and compliance issues with special education laws and regulations;
  • One of only five districts with at least ten schools in the State in which more than 1/3 of the schools are Priority Schools. 
  • One of only two districts in New York State outside of the large five City School districts with more than one school designated for Receivership.
  • One of four districts in the State that was reviewed as part of the federal audit in September 2016 for longstanding noncompliance with special education laws and regulations.
  • One of seven districts statewide operating under a Part 154 Corrective Action Plan pursuant to complaints filed with the New York State Education Department (NYSED) regarding the achievement of English Language Learners/ Multi-Language Learners.  Only 11 percent of district’s English Language Learners/Multilingual Learners (ELL/MLL) graduate, compared to 57 percent of non-ELL/MLL in the district.  Furthermore, 43 percent of Hempstead’s ELL/MLL drop out, compared to 7 percent of non-ELL/MLL in the district.

In addition to the issues noted above, the New York State Education Department conducted a review in January 2017 and has preliminarily determined that there may be an excessive reliance on using online courses as a means for students to earn high school credits and students may have been allowed to earn credits in courses in which they were excessively absent, raising questions as to whether students completed the required coursework.

Dr. Jack Bierwirth has more than 40 years of experience, including nearly 30 years as a superintendent of schools in the Freeport, Sachem and Herricks school districts on Long Island, as well as in Portland, Oregon.  Dr. Bierwirth also worked in the Hempstead Union Free School District as a district director from April 1974 to June 1977.  Dr. Bierwirth holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts. 

As specified in education law, Dr. Bierwirth is considered a consultant to the district and his services will be paid for by the district.  Among his responsibilities, Dr. Bierwirth will conduct an intensive review of district systems, structures and operations with the goal of helping the district to fully and effectively implement its improvement plans for Priority Schools and Focus Schools and develop an action plan to support district improvement.

Dr. Bierwirth’s work will include reviewing the District Comprehensive Education Plan and related plans for Priority Schools and Focus Schools and either endorsing the plans or making recommendations to the District’s Board of Education for their modification.  He will also serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the board of education.

During the first 45 days of his appointment, Dr. Bierwirth will focus on working collaboratively with the district to develop an action plan outlining the goals and objectives for the district and himself for the ensuing school year.  This action plan shall be submitted to the Commissioner of Education for approval.  Upon approval, Dr. Bierwirth shall provide a copy of the action plan to the school district, as well as submit quarterly reports to the Department.

Dr. Bierwirth’s appointment is effective October 6, 2017.