Hempstead school officials responded quickly with some incremental reforms after a scathing state report rebuked the district for problems with everything from academics to sanitation. It's long overdue.

But the depth of Hempstead's difficulties and the lack of talent and cohesion among school officials, including a feuding board of trustees, suggests that the district's actions may not be enough to ensure a quality education and safe environment for its students.

Leadership isn't the only deficit. State school aid and local tax policies have deprived the district of its fair share of funds, placing a burden on officials and homeowners alike. The overcrowded district hasn't had enough money to build badly needed schools, much less repair two buildings closed several years ago and expand remedial programs for "at-risk" kids.

These kids can succeed, as this page found in its Shame of the Suburbs series, if a district makes discipline and academics a priority - and has the resources to hire good teachers and administrators.

The state waited too long before jumping into neighboring Roosevelt. It shouldn't wait very long to see if Hempstead's recent actions are making a difference.