Classrooms jam-packed in Hempstead

Kristin Thorne Image
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Hempstead students face serious overcrowding issues
EMBED <>More Videos

Kristin Thorne is live in Nassau County.

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (WABC) -- There are growing concerns about overcrowded classrooms on Long Island.

Students are jammed into rooms, sometimes 50 or more, and in some cases it is standing room only.

It's happening in Hempstead, and it's so bad the school board is asking the state for emergency aide.

The school district confirms they have 1,200 more kids enrolled in the district this year.

About 95% of them are unaccompanied children from the border.

If you think the crowds outside Schultz Middle School in Hempstead are big, one can only imagine just how packed the classrooms are.

Cristian Castro says her son has 56 kids in his 7th grade classroom.

"He doesn't like it. It's too crowded. Sometimes he cannot even see the board," said Cristian Castro, a parent.

The school district says they're pleading for federal and state aid to rent out space for classrooms and hire more staff.

"No state authority no federal authority, nobody advised us that we would have this influx of students coming in," said Lamont Johnson, of the Hempstead School Board.

According to the state, nearly 2,300 children have just been released from the border to Nassau and Suffolk counties.

That means the vast majority of them have ended up in the Hempstead School District.

11-year-old Yeslin is one of them.

"Do you have a seat? Do you have a place to sit?" Eyewitness News asked.

"No," Yeslin said.

"Where do you sit?" Eyewitness News asked.

"The teacher lets me sit on her desk," Yeslin said.

The chair of the State Committee on Children and Families says they're aware of this strain on local schools, particularly in Hempstead.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo told Eyewitness News, "We will be discussing this with the Governor, the state education department and our colleagues about what can be done for these specific districts."

"It's not fair to the children, it's not fair to the teachers, it's not fair to anyone this overcrowding situation," Johnson said.