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Hempstead school board member ousted amid election investigation

The state education department says Betty Cross must step down from her position on the Hempstead School Board.
The state education department says Betty Cross must step down from her position on the Hempstead School Board.
Photo Credit: BettyCross4Hempstead/Twitter

The state education commissioner ruled Friday that a Hempstead school board member must immediately step down from her post amid an inquiry into allegations of voter fraud stemming from a May school board election.

State Education Commissioner John King issued the order Friday, following a controversial school board election. Community activists filed an appeal to the education commissioner after making allegations of election fraud and absentee ballot abuse, which they said impacted the May 20 election. They also said the alleged improprieties “led to the theft” of the election.

The order, which was sent to a lawyer representing the school district, said Cross should no longer be recognized as a school board member. It also precludes the district from acknowledging Cross, the former board president, as the winner in the last election. Cross did not respond to an email request for comment. A message on school superintendent Susan Johnson’s phone line said her mailbox was full and could not accept calls.

Officials had previously declared Cross was the winner in the election and said she defeated challenger Maribel Touré. According to Newsday, Cross was recognized as being re-elected after absentee ballots were counted at a school board meeting – the day after the election – over the objection of local civic leaders. Touré, her lawyer Frederick Brewington and other community members petitioned the state education commissioner to remove Cross from the school board until a final decision is made in the case.

Hempstead school officials also filed papers to the state education department, asking the commissioner to keep Cross on the board. “This is clearly a political scheme to reverse the election results and an attempt to disenfranchise the Hempstead voters who voted for me,” Cross allegedly claimed in legal papers, according to Newsday. It was not immediately clear when King may make a final decision in the case. The Nassau County district attorney’s office is also looking into the allegations.