Beloved Educator Passes; Fight for Justice Goes On!

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

  1. Beloved Educator Pedro Santana has Passed Away
  2. Rockland Journal News Editorial in favor of NY State Intervention
  3. Ellen Jaffee Delivers Her Strongest Message Yet
  4. Advocates for Justice Needs Your Help

1) Pedro Santana

Pedro Santana has lost his fight with cancer. During his brief tenure in East Ramapo he touched many lives.  I was proud to call him my friend.  The quality I like to think made him so unique was his courage to do the right thing. I try to be more like Pedro every day.  Pedro is survived by his wife, Angie, and their two children, Alexa and Hudson. A memorial service, will be held May 13 at 6 p.m. at the Lafayette Theater in Suffern.

2) Editorial Supports Intervention

Rockland Journal News: Cuomo can help East Ramapo

According to the editor of the Journal News Governor Cuomo “can champion a common-sense legislation that would authorize the Department of Education to intervene in chronically underperforming school districts.”

3) Our NY State Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee delivers her strongest message yet

Capital New York: Lawmaker urges Cuomo to intervene in East Ramapo

According to the article, the legislation supported by Assembly Member Jaffee and endorsed by the Journal News, the same legislation written by the NY State Education Department and that 6152 people signed a petition for, is being opposed by the NY State School Board Association.  You can tell NYSSBA to stop blocking help for East Ramapo by following this link: NYSSBA: Help Save East Ramapo

4) Advocates for Justice needs your help

Thanks to many generous donors, Advocates for Justice raised over $7,000 at the ‘Breakfast for Justice’ event last month. Thank you to all of those who gave. However, there is still much work to be done and funds are truly needed. Your donation to Advocates for Justice is tax deductible and goes 100% to obtaining justice for the children and families of East Ramapo. All the information you need is at http://poweroften.us/donate/

Clergy Group to Cuomo: East Ramapo Governance is Broken!

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

  1. Rockland Clergy Call on Gov. Cuomo to Intervene
  2. Judge sides with East Ramapo over Yeshivas, but board votes to ‘settle’, awarding millions in credit.
  3. Play about East Ramapo opens to packed rooms, two more showings coming up
  4. Honor Society Induction on Thursday
  5. Advocates for Justice needs your help!

1) Rockland Clergy Call on Gov. Cuomo to Intervene

The Announcement of the formation Rockland Clergy for Social Justice and their call for Gov. Cuomo to intervene in East Ramapo has been covered widely in the media:

East Ramapo Underground: video here: http://youtu.be/eX92l9t9AYM
The next East Ramapo Underground Radio Show is this Friday, April 11, 2014 @ 10 o’clock on WRCR-1300AM.

The Journal News: New clergy group asks Cuomo to fix East Ramapo schools

The New York Times: A School Board That Overlooks Its Obligation to Students

The Jewish Week: East Ramapo Schools Fight

News 12: Religious leaders ask state to take over East Ramapo school district

The Commentator: Our Education Problem

JTA: Orthodox group Uri L’Tzedek joins protest against mostly haredi N.Y. school board

The group plans to visit Albany and hopes to meet the Governor face to face later this month.

One member of the group, Uri L’Tzedek (Awaken to Justice), has created an online petition for Jewish Citizens to support the mission of the group.

2) Judge sides with East Ramapo over Yeshivas, but board votes to ‘settle’, awarding millions in credit.

As reported by the Journal News Judge sides with East Ramapo on Colton rent credit dispute, “The East Ramapo school district doesn’t owe $1 million to two private Orthodox Jewish schools that lease the Colton Elementary property and want to buy it, a judge says.”

However, at the last board meeting, the school board voted to “settle” with the schools, awarding not just the whole amount the judge just said they didn’t owe but also other credits totaling over $2.5 million dollars. East Ramapo ready to grant credit in school’s sale.

The East Ramapo board’s “desire to resolve and settle … to avoid the risk, uncertainty, continued expenses and inconvenience” when it comes to ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools and families presents a stark contrast to the legal stance they have taken towards public school parents and the state education department.  They file appeals when they lose and appear willing to spend any sum when facing public school advocates in court. But when the opponent is a yeshiva even when the judge has said they don’t have to pay, they settle!!!

3) Play about East Ramapo opens to packed rooms, two more showings coming up

As reported in the Journal News ‘East Ramapo’ play aims to help ease friction in district , The new play by Mark Judelson has been a big hit.  You have two more chances to catch it, at CEJJES in Pomona (Directions) this Saturday at 2 PM, and at the Kurtz Center in Spring Valley on April 28 at 7:30 PM.

4) Honor Society Induction on Thursday

On Thursday, April 10th at Ramapo High School from 7-9 pm is the “Induction for the National Honor Society”. Congresswoman Nita Lowey will attend. Let us show Congresswoman Lowey that we care about our kids by attending this event. – (Thanks to Carole Anderson for this message)

5) Advocates for Justice needs your help

Thanks to many generous donors, Advocates for Justice raised over $7,000 at the ‘Breakfast for Justice’ event last month.  Thank you to all of those who gave.  However, there is still much work to be done and funds are truly needed.  Your donation to Advocates for Justice is tax deductible and goes 100% to obtaining justice for the children and families of East Ramapo.  All the information you need is at http://poweroften.us/donate/

Rockland Clergy for Social Justice Calls for Gov. Cuomo to Intervene in East Ramapo

Power of Ten Update

Special Issue:

Rockland Clergy for Social Justice will hold a press conference on Tuesday, April 8 at noon, at the First Baptist Church located at 3 Hoyt Street in Spring Valley, NY. More than 90 rabbis, ministers, pastors and imams from Rockland County will be calling for Gov. Cuomo to intervene in the governance of the East Ramapo School District.

Speakers will include Rev. Weldon McWilliams IV, PhD of the First Baptist Church in Spring Valley; Rabbi Adam Baldachin of the Montebello Jewish Center; Rabbi Ari Hart of Uri L’Tzedek (Orthodox Social Justice); Pastor Joel Michel of the French Speaking Baptist Church in Spring Valley, and Azeem Farooki of the Islamic Center of Rockland.

The East Ramapo Central School District board has reduced services to students, most of whom are African-American, Haitian American and Hispanic. According to Pastor Joel Michel of the French Speaking Baptist Church Spring Valley: “The lives of our children are in peril. East Ramapo public school governance is broken. We need Governor Cuomo to address this tragedy now.”

The school board is under investigation for diverting public funds to segregated religious schools. To Hazel N. Dukes, President, New York State Conference NAACP, it is a matter of equal treatment for all.  She says “It is time for Governor Cuomo to act on behalf of East Ramapo public school children ensuring their right to an appropriate New York State education comparable to their peers in other Rockland County school districts”

The East Ramapo board has ignored NY State Education Department directives concerning its improper practices in violation of NY State and Federal law. Rabbi Adam Baldachin of the Montebello Jewish Center framed the issue as a moral obligation: “We believe that all of our children have the right to an educational experience which sets them up for a successful future. It is upon us as clergy members to make sure that this moral right is granted. We cannot be silent while students in the East Ramapo School District are denied the right to thrive”.

The East Ramapo board members are often identified in the media by their Orthodox Jewish religion, but in fact they are mostly businessmen involved in real estate (as reported by the Journal News).  Rabbi Ari Hart, co-founder of Uri L’Tzedek, (Orthodox Social Justice) explains that in the Jewish religious tradition “We are deeply concerned about the well-being of all children, from all religious, races and cultures in Rockland County. That is why we are calling on Governor Cuomo to intervene and help make a better Rockland County school system for all.”

New Play about East Ramapo; Rockland Legislature Asks NY to Investigate School Finances

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

  1. Hearing on Legislation Tuesday
  2. Play about East Ramapo Issues Sunday
  3. Help Power of Ten Grow

1) The Rockland County Legislature is requesting that the New York State Assembly and Senate pass “The New York State School Taxpayers’ Protection Act”:

Public school districts in New York state have recently experienced numerous instances of financial scandals. These scandals have been unprecedented in both the number and diversity of financial malfeasance. Furthermore, such scandals result in the diversion of hard-earned property taxpayers’ money from their proper use in school instruction to improper and illegal purposes that do not further the school districts’ essential mission of educating New York children. Therefore, the legislature finds that it is necessary to establish a new, independent state agency charged with the function of investigating allegations of corruption, financial improprieties, unethical conduct, misconduct or other criminal conduct within public school districts outside of New York city. In addition, the legislature further finds that the current laws must be amended to incorporate school district financial safeguards and establish sanctions for violations of school district finance laws.

You can attend the hearing and even speak on the subject:

Tuesday, March 18, at 7:00 PM at 11 New Hempstead Rd in New City.

It is important to note that the successes we have had in protecting the taxpayers interests have been achieved through investigations by private citizens who then report these findings to the Commissioner.  A State Agency to conduct investigations would be a welcome addition to our efforts.

2) Play about East Ramapo Starts Sunday

“East Ramapo” is a dramatic series of monologues and conversations of individuals directly affected by the situation in the East Ramapo Central School District. These include high school students from both public and private schools, administrators and community activists. Several of the actors perform in their own voices. The goal of the play is to provide an artistic opportunity for individuals with widely divergent beliefs and cultures to recognize and hear each other in a safe setting. East Ramapo was written by Mark Judelson.

Cast
Allegra Berg
Kevin Castel
Marissa Chin
Jean Fields
Mark Judelson
Willie Trotman
Alexus Williams

Performances:

Sunday, March 23, 2:00 p.m.
New City Library, 220 N. Main Street, New City

Sunday, April 6, 1:30 p.m.
Suffern Library, 210 Lafayette Avenue, Suffern

Saturday, April 12, 2:00 p.m.
CEJJES Institute, 5 Cooper Morris Drive, Pomona

Monday, April 28, 7:30 p.m.
Kurtz Civic Center, 9 North Main Street, Spring Valley

Sunday, May 4, 2:00 p.m.
Haverstraw Kings Daughters Library, 10 W. Haverstraw Road, Garnerville

All performances are free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Mark Judelson: markjudelson@yahoo.com www.storiesofpeace.com

Funding for East Ramapo has been made possible by a grant from the Puffin Foundation.

3) Help Power of Ten Grow

Power of Ten is an email newsletter delivered free.  The mission is to promote awareness of the importance of education and the difficulties faced by families in East Ramapo in accessing quality education for their children.  Power of Ten offers opportunities for readers to be active and assert their rights. You can help to promote this mission by inviting friends to sign up for the Power of Ten updates.  Just ask them to visit www.poweroften.us and enter their name and email address.  Thanks! – Steve White, editor

East Ramapo board loses in court again; segregation undermines education;

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:
  1. School Board Loses Another Lawsuit
  2. East Ramapo decline tied to increasing segregation
  3. Reminder: MLK Day event Monday
  4. Green Meadow Waldorf School offers free tutoring
  5. Message from the editor

1) School Board Loses Another Lawsuit

The Journal News: Court: East Ramapo broke law on special-ed placement practice

2) East Ramapo decline tied to increasing segregation

The Journal News Community View: East Ramapo board a symptom of community’s segregation

Read the essay in text only format

3) MLK Day Event Monday:

Martin Luther King Day Event Now includes VH1 celebrity guest Puma Robinson

4) Green Meadow School Offers Free Tutoring

The Journal News: A new tutoring program offered by Green Meadow Waldorf School could give students in East Ramapo and other districts a leg up on their grades in 2014.

5) Message from the editor

The East Ramapo School District used to have a local, reasonably priced lawyer who served the interests of the district well.  This lawyer was summarily fired for no reason and replaced with a much more expensive lawyer.  The new lawyer advised the district regarding the practice of special education placements deemed illegal by NY State.  This lawyer advised the district regarding breaking the contract of the Superintendent and then lost an expensive lawsuit in which that superintendent recouped the salary owed him.  This lawyer advised the district regarding the process of selling and leasing schools which led to investigation by the NY State Attorney General’s office, the arrest of the appraiser involved, and the annulment of a sale and a lease. Good legal advice would have kept the district out of all this trouble.  Now the district has lost another lawsuit, in which it was ridiculously suing the NY State Education Department for doing its job.

The money to pay all these legal fees is coming out of your tax dollars which are supposed to be for the purpose of educating children.  The school board, which is supposed to be a steward of those funds, has been acting as if they are purposely trying to wreck the district.  Can there be any solution to this problem?  Actually, the NY State Education Department has proposed the solution as a new law.  The bill has been sitting in committee since 2011.

Dr. McWilliams points out: “Many local politicians have yielded to the organized political voting bloc as a means to maintain their political seats…” He continues: “The East Ramapo public school community can no longer afford to wait on the politicians to correct the imbalance…” 

On Nov 5, 2013 Preserve Rockland candidates Ed Day and Emilia White won landslide victories, Public education advocates have shown that they will not only organize, mobilize, demonstrate, protest, and petition; they are now voting in a block. We demand that the governance of East Ramapo be changed, and new stewards be put in place who will once again make the education of EVERY child the ONLY mission of the school district, This is the recommendation of the NY State Education Department, This plan was endorsed by the Journal News. It has been sponsored by our state representatives.

It is now five years since the school board hired their scandal plagued law firm and 7 months since they said they would part ways with them. It is clear that public outrage, even international attention means nothing to this board.  Only an action by NY State to remove them will change the course of our district and our county. – Steven White, editor of The Power of Ten

Sad News; Strange Bedfellows; A Day to Celebrate

Power of Ten Update

In this issue:

  1. Rev. Brightman has passed
  2. School board member resigns
  3. An outrageous choice
  4. School board still paying lawyer who cursed at student
  5. Martin Luther King Celebration Jan 20 at SVHS

1) Rev. Brightman has passed

The Rev. Walter Brightman Jr. passed away last month at the age of 81. Rev. Brightman often spoke about the East Ramapo children and the need for them to receive a quality education. He really cared about the kids. Rev Brightman will be missed by all of us.

The Journal News: Spring Valley activist Brightman dies at 81

2) School Board Member Resigns

East Ramapo Board of Education member MaraLuz Corado stepped down in December after serving less than six months on the board. She was the FOURTH member of the East Ramapo School Board to resign in 2013!!!

The Journal News: E. Ramapo board member resigns

3) An Outrageous Choice

Democrats at the County Legislature officially selected former East Ramapo School Board member Aron Wieder as the Legislature’s Democratic Majority Leader. SMH!

Preserve Ramapo: An Outrageous Choice

4) School board still paying lawyer who cursed at student
“…after much public pressure, the East Ramapo School Board president Mr. Yehuda Weissmandl announced on July 8 that the district would “transition to other legal representation”. Six months later this firm is still in place no disciplinary action has been taken by the school district in either case. Given that the original “transition” from an existing law firm to Minerva & D’Agostino took all of one school board meeting, I find it insulting to our community that six months later, tax dollars are still being paid to this law firm.” – Rockland County Executive Ed Day
5) Martin Luther King Celebration Jan 20 at SVHS
The Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center and Spring Valley High School celebrate 50 years of civil rights history and honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 20, 2014 from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM at Spring Valley High School, 361 Rte. 59, Spring Valley, NY.
Program will include keynote speakers Dr. Weldon McWilliams IV and Ms. Mercedes Smith.
Entertainment including Chiku Awali Dancers. Arthur Lorde’s Motherland Rhythms, JAMCCAR’s Ekklipse Steel Band and Christ Centered Ministry’s Voices of Praise.
The event will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center in Spring Valley, the 50th anniversary “Freedom Summer”, and the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Also featured will be performances by Spring Valley High School students.
Admission and light refreshments are FREE.

2013 Review; 2014 Priorities

The Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. 2013 Review
  2. Let’s Make Education Our Priority for 2014
  3. Advocates for Justice End of Year Donation Plea

1) 2013 Review

2013 was a very active year for the struggle for educational equity in East Ramapo schools. It began with Letters from the NY State Education Department (NYSED) demanding that East Ramapo get its financial and educational house in order.  That initiative by the state was stalled by a lawsuit brought by the district against NYSED. That was another of several suits, fought with our education tax dollars, that the school board has lost. In January, Power of Ten went to Albany with students and parents and 4,994 signatures asking for NY State to intervene.  We got a response from Commissioner King, who said that there was pending legislation that could be a solution to our problem. In June The Power of Ten submitted petitions to Governor Cuomo with 6,152 signatures in favor of the passage of the bill. We have never received any response from Governor Cuomo.  In October, The Civil Rights lawsuit brought by Advocates for Justice survived another challenge by the school board’s $600 an hour lawyers. The judge has ruled that the case will proceed, and we are confident that Justice is Coming to East Ramapo!

Read an Abbreviated History of Actions to Save Our Schools or check out the archive of Power of Ten updates for a look back at more actions, 

2) Let’s Make Education Our Priority for 2014

All of our actions have had the single goal that every child’s right to a quality education shall be ensured and protected by the community at large.  We have promoted candidates for school board, we have conducted informational rallies and protests, we have delivered our message to the school district and to our elected officials.  We have filed appeals with NYSED, some of which have been successful. However, resources continue to be diverted and programs and staff continue to be cut.  In 2014 we will continue to rally, and to lobby. We will also be in court!

3) Advocates for Justice End of Year Donation Plea

When your civil rights are trampled, and the politicians are unwilling to act, it has traditionally been the legal system which has acted to protect your rights. Access to that legal system often depends on ability to pay, and too often justice is denied due to lack of funding.

We have been extremely lucky to have our issue taken up by a not-for-profit, public interest civil rights law firm. Advocates for Justice has been working tirelessly to get the US Federal Court to order that the East Ramapo School District stop diverting funding from public schools and restore funding to the way it is mandated by law.  The case also includes recouping damages from the school officials whose actions have caused so much damage to our educational system.

Advocates for Justice is not charging a fee to any of the over 400 people who signed on as plaintiffs in this suit. However, this is a very complicated suit and the school board has already spent millions of dollars trying to make it go away.  They know that if this case goes to trial, they will be personally liable, and they are using every desperate measure to try to stop this case from ever being seen by a jury.

We must come together to sustain our side of this legal battle.  That means each of us needs to pitch in for the costs, in whatever way we can.

Click Here to Donate to the Advocates for Justice East Ramapo Save Our Schools Legal Fund

Donations to Advocates for Justice are tax-deductible.

WE can make Justice come to East Ramapo! Please donate today!

D’Agostino Still Here?; Peace Award Details

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

  1. D’Agostino is still here?
  2. Peace Award Details
  3. Message from The East Ramapo Underground

1) D’Agostino is still here?

Many people might think that after the school board said that they would “transition” from the law firm of D’Agostino that meant he was no longer working for the district. They would be wrong.  A letter was written to the JN (by Power of Ten editor Steven White): E. Ramapo board, in another failure, still employing tainted law firm

The County Exec elect wrote a letter to Commissioner King about the subject.  Article in Pearl River Patch: Rockland Exec Elect Asks State to Step in on East Ramapo Schools’ Lawyers

2) Peace Award Details

The Fellowship of Reconciliation will present the 2013 Nyack Area Peace Award to East Ramapo activists Steven and Emilia White on Sunday, Dec 22 during the Winter Solstice Celebration.

The Event will be at the FOR headquarters at 521 N. Broadway in Nyack from 1:00 – 7:00 PM and will include music and food (potluck).  There is a suggested donation.

The Award Ceremony will be at 2:30 PM

All the information is available at http://forusa.org/events/2013/12/22/winter-solstice-house-concert

The information about the award and this year’s recipients: http://forusa.org/events/2013/12/22/winter-solstice-house-concert

3) Message from The East Ramapo Underground

The East Ramapo school board meeting (Dec 16th) had two executive sessions that lasted a total of three hours. Here are the videos that show what happened during the other 25 minutes of the meeting. East Ramapo started Extended Learning Time for schools on December 16, 2013. Title I, II and III funds are used for this. Some of the time is before and after school. Do the parents know about this program? http://youtu.be/N-eseFGyCXQ 

East Ramapo states that the amount of students that are eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch now stands at 76%. One school is at 89%. Are these numbers accurate? Who checks these numbers? http://youtu.be/ttzP1Zyy5ZA

East Ramapo which has been sited three times in the past for making improper settlements continues the practice. Listen as four more settlements are made. Special Ed costs have risen by over 45% in the last three years.  http://youtu.be/bmGmkDVbF94

Watch all the East Ramapo Videos on www.youtube.com/LuckyLouProduction

East Ramapo Underground provides messages about school board meetings and other news topics often more quickly and with more detail than the Power of Ten Updates.

You can now subscribe to the East Ramapo Underground messages directly by sending a message to eastramapounderground-subscribe@npogroups.org

Invitation to FOR Celebration; Spring Valley – East Ramapo Crisis is an Emergency

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. East Ramapo activists to receive Peace Prize
  2. Crisis in East Ramapo declared an emergency priority by the Village of Spring Valley
  3. New lawsuit addresses failure to provide basic education to all students

1) East Ramapo Activists to Receive Peace Prize

YOU are INVITED to attend this celebration featuring the Living Legend, America’s best-loved folksinger, Pete Seeger!!! There will be many other performers, including East Ramapo parent Tjokorda Gde Arsa Artha.   Follow the link below for times, suggested donation, and more info.

The 2013 Fellowship of Reconciliation Nyack Area Peace Award Winners are Steve and Emilia White!!!

The award will be presented on December 22nd at the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Winter Solstice House Concert and Nyack-Area Peace Award Presentation

2) Crisis in East Ramapo declared an emergency priority by the Village of Spring Valley

Calling the situation in East Ramapo a “crisis,” the Village of Spring Valley passed a resolution stating that it will play an active role to address the issues facing the East Ramapo Central School District.

The Journal News: New Spring Valley board focuses on East Ramapo’s troubles

 3) New lawsuit addresses failure to provide basic education to all students

The cuts to programs in East Ramapo have affected many students. If you are a parent who is concerned that your student may not be receiving all the educational programs that they should be, you may be interested in a new lawsuit which addresses this issue on a statewide level.  Please contact Dr. Oscar Cohen for more information at oscarpcohen@optonline.net

East Ramapo Activists to Receive Peace Prize; East Ramapo is Major Factor in Nov 5th Election

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. East Ramapo Activists to Receive Peace Prize
  2. Cuomo Must Intervene in East Ramapo
  3. The Campaign for Educational Equity Wants You!
  4. Crisis in East Ramapo is Major Factor in Nov 5th Election

1) East Ramapo Activists to Receive Peace Prize

The 2013 Fellowship of Reconciliation Nyack Area Peace Award Winners are Steve and Emilia White!!!

The award will be presented on December 22nd at the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Winter Solstice House Concert and Nyack-Area Peace Award Presentation

Featuring the music of PETE SEEGER!!!!!!!!!!!!! (One cannot put enough exclamation marks after typing PETE SEEGER!!!!!!!!!!)

2) Cuomo Must Intervene in East Ramapo

In an incisive and insightful letter to the editor, Dr. Oscar Cohen calls on Governor Cuomo to intervene in East Ramapo

Cuomo needs to intervene on behalf of East Ramapo students

3) The Campaign for Educational Equity Wants You!

The Teachers College, Columbia University Campaign for Educational Equity (CEE) is filing a class action lawsuit against New York State and is seeking specific data about the harm imposed on students who are not receiving required education, related services and/or extra curricula activities.

They are looking for parents of students who may have been personally deprived by these cutbacks. Please contact Dr. Oscar Cohen if you would like to participate at oscarpcohen@optonline.net

 4) Crisis in East Ramapo is Major Factor in Nov 5th Election

This year voters all over Rockland had East Ramapo on their minds as they went to the polls. Thanks to an increase in media coverage over the past year, the public is well aware of the reprehensible treatment that students, parents, and the public in general have received and continue to receive from the East Ramapo School Board. The same political machine which delivered school board seats in East Ramapo was promoting its agenda for many elected positions around Rockland. Most prominently they wanted to be the deciding factor in the Rockland County Executive race. They supported the Democratic candidate, David Fried, who was already considered by many as the front runner because of his many endorsements, including President Clinton, and because Democrats outnumber Republicans in Rockland County two to one. He is also an excellent campaigner, and very well liked for good reason as he is a really nice guy. The voters responded with a resounding victory for the underdog, Ed Day, who is also a nice guy and ran a good campaign, because they are fully aware of what is happening in East Ramapo and how it is only possible because of the political machine that elects the school board members, and they do not want that machine to have any more power. Ed Day early on aligned himself with East Ramapo activists Betty Carmand, Hiram Rivera, Weldon McWilliams and Emilia White, who were also running for elected office on the Preserve Rockland ballot line, and wrote a position piece on East Ramapo which mirrored the positions of the East Ramapo activists. By aligning himself with us, he made it clear that he was not interested in receiving the support of our opponents. The 8,667 votes that Ed Day got on the Preserve Rockland Line were the deciding factor in the election. Before November 5th, it was considered necessary to get the support of the machine that elected our East Ramapo school board in order to win a countywide election in Rockland. After November 5th, those who seek elected office should think twice about relying on that machine. Preserve Rockland is now more than a way to send a message with your vote, it is the most powerful third party line in Rockland County. Emilia White was another Preserve Rockland Candidate who won her election. She gathered 1,575 votes on the Democratic line, more than any other major party candidate for Spring Valley Trustee, and added 341 on the Preserve Rockland line for a total of 1,916 votes.

 

Parent: East Ramapo fails to provide NY minimum education; SOS President: Send a message on Nov 5

Power of Ten Update

In this issue:

  1. Parent Files Appeal Re: Lack of Music and Art in East Ramapo
  2. SOS President: Send a Message on November 5th

1) Parent Files Appeal Re: Lack of Music and Art in East Ramapo

East Ramapo Parent David Curry has served the Board of Education with a Section 310 Appeal regarding its failure to provide instruction in music and art in the elementary schools, in violation of NYSED regulations.

Lohud: East Ramapo parent appeals to state over lack of music, art instruction

The superintendent has said that activists file complaints “just for fun”.  Perhaps he thinks it is funny for parents to see their children crying because they don’t have music?

Thank you, Mr. Curry, for standing up for your child and for all of our children.

2) Send a message on November 5th

The “Save Our Schools” (SOS) efforts to resolve the crisis in East Ramapo Schools have focused on the following topics:

1) Recognition that the crisis is the result of the disconnect between the interests of the school board and the children actually attending the public schools.

2) Petitioning the NYS Education Department to intervene on behalf of our children’s right to a quality education.

3) Appealing specific decisions of the school board which were arbitrary, and which damaged the education system of the children and/or the interests of the taxpayers of Rockland County.

4) Petitioning Governor Cuomo, our legislators, and the Commissioner of Education to intervene in the governance of the district.

5) Filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of parents, students and taxpayers to force the district to provide a quality education and hold the school board members accountable for their mismanagement.

6) Requesting that a study be conducted to find and compare possible innovative solutions to the systemic problems associated with a district in which a majority of school-aged children do not attend public schools.

7) Demanding that parents must be included in the discussions and decision making regarding their children’s education in public schools.

This year, candidates running for election on every party line and for every municipal office are talking about East Ramapo. Several of them have family connections, or were themselves students. Some have been very active in our campaigns to elect school board members, or have themselves been candidates. These include Emilia White (school board candidate in 2009), Hiram Rivera (school board candidate in 2012), Betty Carmand (plaintiff in the civil rights lawsuit and filed an appeal to NYSED) and Dr. Weldon McWilliams IV who is an advisor to the East Ramapo Student Coalition.

This year, a local party named “Preserve Rockland” has been formed which includes the above named candidates and promises to make the work they have been doing as citizens and activists their work as elected officials. The candidates who comprise the Preserve Rockland slate include Democrats, Republicans and Working Families party members. There are candidates in several municipalities, including the Towns of Ramapo and Clarkstown, the Villages of Spring Valley and Suffern, and Rockland County.

By voting on the Preserve Rockland line, Row “G”, we are sending a message that the problems of East Ramapo MUST be dealt with NOW, for the sake of the children of East Ramapo and ALL the children in Rockland County. We realize there are other important issues and other worthy candidates, but there may never be another chance like this year for OUR VOICES to be heard.

Robert Forrest

President

Save Our Schools-East Ramapo

 

Upcoming Events; Enrollment is Up; East Ramapo Activists Honored

Power of Ten Update

In this issue:

  1. Meet and Greet on Tuesday
  2. Enrollment up 13% over projections
  3. East Ramapo Activists receive NAACP awards
  4. Power of Ten editor receives HANA award

 

1) Meet and Greet on Tuesday

East Ramapo Activist Betty Carmand will be presenting her vision for the future of the Town of Ramapo and introducing her team of Preserve Rockland candidates to the public on Tuesday, October 22, at 7:00 PM at the Galaxy Restaurant, 42 N. Main Street in Spring Valley. All are welcome to this free informational event, which includes buffet and light refreshments, music, raffles, networking and VIP guests.

2) Enrollment up by 13% over projections

When the board started to close schools they claimed that in 2013 there would be just 7,289 students. There are now 8,238 students in East Ramapo schools. That is 949 more students in two less schools that what was projected. Watch the following video as the superintendent doesn’t want to say the classrooms are overcrowded, he just says they are very full. Is he fooling you? The classes are so full that this year some children are sharing desks!

Watch the video here http://youtu.be/RlowauAb0r8

Message courtesy of the East Ramapo Underground

3) East Ramapo Activists receive NAACP awards

This year the Spring Valley NAACP has chosen to honor Micheal Miller with the William “Bill” Darden Education award.  Micheal is one of the strongest advocates for quality public education in East Ramapo.

The Spring Valley NAACP will also present the Unsung Hero award to public school activist Emilia White.  Emilia has become well known for holding the school board to task and refusing to back down as they illegally tried to prevent taping of their public meetings.

The NAACP will present these awards at their Annual Fall Gala on Friday November 1st at 7PM at the Colonial Inn, 545 Tappan Road Norwood, New Jersey. Tickets are available at 845-362-6227 or email spvalleynaacp@aol.com

4) Power of Ten editor receives HANA award

HANA (the Haitian American Nurses Association) will be honoring Steve White at their 5th Annual Scholarships and Awards Dinner which will be held on October 26, 2013 at 8:00 PM at the Colonial Inn, 545 Tappan Road Norwood, New Jersey.

Tickets are available at 856-641-6672 or email rocklandhana@yahoo.com

Meet and Greet Today; Mr. Smith moves closer to Grammy Award

Power of Ten Update

In this issue:

  1. Four Hundred Turn Out to Support Pedro Santana
  2. Former East Ramapo Band Director closer to Grammy
  3. Meet and Greet Today

1) Beloved Educator Battling Cancer

Former Assistant Superintendent for East Ramapo Pedro Santana has been diagnosed with a very serious form of cancer and is fighting for his life.  Over 400 people came to the Nyack Center on Friday to show support and Pedro treated them to his one man show.  He is a real genius; he had the whole room laughing more than crying.  For those who missed the evening, you can still donate through the following Web site   https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/q073/-santanastrongbattlescancer

Checks can be sent to:

Pedro Santana

1 Tempo Road

New City NY 10956

2) Former East Ramapo Band Director closer to Grammy

Michael E. Smith, the celebrated Band Director who was let go by the same unbelievably incompetent administration that also fired Pedro Santana, is now in the last cut (the top 25) to receive the first ever Grammy award for Music Educator.  Although he is listed as a teacher for Nyack High School, we know that his heart will always be with East Ramapo.  He would be bringing that award and honor to East Ramapo if our administration valued excellence.

3) Meet and Greet Today

East Ramapo Activist Dr. Weldon McWilliams IV will be presenting his vision for the future of the Town of Ramapo and introducing his team of Preserve Rockland candidates to the public tonight, Monday October 14, at 7:00 PM at the Martin Luther King Center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley. All are welcome to this free informational event.

Reminder: Event Tonight (Friday Oct 11)

Power of Ten Update

Reminder: Event Tonight (Friday Oct 11)

Beloved Educator Battling Cancer

Former Assistant Superintendent for East Ramapo Pedro Santana has been diagnosed with a very serious form of cancer and is fighting for his life.

Pedro’s friends and family invite you to “join us to celebrate a man’s challenges through life’s journey” at the Nyack Center, 58 Depew Avenue in Nyack, this Friday, October 11, at 8:00 PM.  There is a $20.00 suggested donation.

Pakistani Education Activist Wows American Audiences

If you want to know how important education is, ask Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, an education activist from Pakistan, who was shot by the Taliban for espousing the radical idea that quality education should be available to all.

Watch her on The Daily Show

I STRONGLY recommend watching all three parts.

Here is a transcript of a statement in the interview:

I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’  But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.’

Fortunately, our student education activists in East Ramapo don’t have to face down armed killers.  But the effects of poor educational opportunities are the same everywhere: Poverty, Hopelessness, and Violence.  And the need to fight for what you believe in through peace and through dialogue and education is the same everywhere. We should all be like Malala and wish for a quality education for everyone’s children, an education that teaches all children about equality, and justice, and respect, and how to live together.  Our challenge in East Ramapo is to ensure that this kind of education is provided to every child in every school.  –  Steve White, editor

Beloved Educator Battling Cancer; Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Report

Power of Ten Update

In this issue:

  1. Beloved Educator Battling Cancer
  2. Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Report

1) Beloved Educator Battling Cancer

Former Assistant Superintendent for East Ramapo Pedro Santana has been diagnosed with a very serious form of cancer and is fighting for his life.  The main thing which makes Pedro so loved by students and the whole community, in my opinion, is his infectious positive attitude and his vibrant iconoclastic spirit.  His attitude towards his illness is a perfect example: he says “this is just another chapter in my book”.

Pedro’s friends and family invite you to “join us to celebrate a man’s challenges through life’s journey” at the Nyack Center, 58 Depew Avenue in Nyack, this Friday, October 11, at 8:00 PM.  There is a $20.00 suggested donation.

2) Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Report

Judge Cathy Seibel has denied requests to dismiss our civil rights lawsuit. Two dozen East Ramapo parents and activists went to the hearing in White Plains on Sept. 30th and listened to Judge Seibel read her decision for almost 3 hours.

News 12: Judge allows lawsuit against East Ramapo School District to move forward

Because of Judge Seibel’s decision, the lawsuit will move forward and we are one step closer to getting justice for our school children.

Lohud: Judge allows key claims against East Ramapo officials, but dismisses some

The district has been wasting hundreds of thousands of your education tax dollars to try to squash our lawsuit.  We are represented by a non-profit, public advocacy law firm. Despite limited resources, they are unfaltering in their commitment to our children.  However, it is not possible to bring a claim of this magnitude without spending money. It has been generous donations from people like you which has enabled us to get this far.

I am asking you today to make a contribution to Advocates for Justice that will help us to hold accountable those who are most responsible for the destruction of East Ramapo.

Please go to www.poweroften.us and make a donation today.  All donations are tax deductible.

Thank you,

Steven White, editor

 

Reminder: Court Date Monday

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Federal Civil Rights Court Date
  2. Board Meeting Tuesday
  3. Questions from East Ramapo Underground
  4. East Ramapo Gambles on Budgets

1) Federal Civil Rights Court Date

Advocates for Justice, a New York based public interest law firm, has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents and students. A motion has been filed by the defendants to dismiss the lawsuit, and Judge Cathy Seibel will issue her decision on Monday.

The public is encouraged to attend:

Monday September 30 at 10:30 AM

Federal Courthouse Room 621 – Judge Cathy Seibel

300 Quarropas Street White Plains, NY

2) Board Meeting Tuesday

East Ramapo School Board Meeting
Tuesday,October 1, 2013
105 South Madison Ave, Spring Valley, Administration Building
7:30p.m. Regular Meeting

3) Questions from East Ramapo Underground

  • Why is D’Agostino still working for the District 3 months after the Board said they would get another attorney?
  • Why are children sitting 2 to a desk?
  • Why are there segregated Special Ed Kindergarten Classes in Yiddish?

4) East Ramapo Gambles on Budgets

Letter by Stephen Price, Former Board Member of East Ramapo
published in the Journal News (Sept 22)

Re: “East Ramapo’s aid issues will spread,” Sept. 5th Letter:

Regarding the Gap Elimination Adjustment Law, the letter writer missed an important point setting East Ramapo apart from all other Rockland school districts. Even if the GAP elimination law is repealed, there is no amount of increased state aid that will help East Ramapo as long as schools Superintendent Joel Klein and the Board of Education are allowed to continue to overspend their revenues as they have the past two years. This practice has accelerated the financial and educational demise of East Ramapo.

In his response to the recent comptroller’s audit, Dr. Klein stated, “We anticipate that within the next three years, the district will no longer require ‘one time revenue’ sources to bridge the gaps in the district budget.” Dr. Klein implies there are financial controls in place. But the recent history of mid-year program cuts demonstrates a profound lack of adequate planning. More realistically, Dr. Klein’s response is nothing more than a euphemism for a plan to continue deficit spending.

After the board recently cut more than $3 million from the voter-approved budget, it became apparent the distict’s response to the comptroller’s audit is an ominous foretelling of a dark financial future for East Ramapo.

This year, the district is gambling on almost $12 million in questionable revenue and budget assumptions. If these gambles do not pay off, the results will be more program cuts and more program cuts and more excuses to sell off the district’s assets.

Court Date Sept 30; Emilia Wins Primary

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Federal Civil Rights Court Date
  2. Emilia White Wins Democratic Primary
  3. East Ramapo Underground Radio
  4. Two Important Letters Published in Journal News

1) Federal Civil Rights Court Date

The public is encouraged to attend:

Monday September 30 at 10:30 AM

Federal Courthouse Room 621 – Judge Cathy Seibel

300 Quarropas Street White Plains, NY

2) Emilia White Wins Democratic Primary

Emilia White has won the Democratic Primary for Spring Valley Village Trustee!

Emilia was our candidate for East Ramapo School Board in 2009.  She is married to Steven White, editor of this e-newsletter. Emilia has become well known for standing up to bullying from the school board presidents.

Emilia stood out from a crowded field of candidates earning 40% more votes than the next highest vote getter. Those who wish to congratulate her or help with the campaign for the Nov 5th General Election can contact her at happykcc@hotmail.com

3) East Ramapo Underground Radio

 Listen to the show here: http://youtu.be/NLAiZLYbD3g

4) Two Important Letters Published in Journal News

Antonio Luciano: Day correct on East Ramapo’s problems

Rabbi Justin Schwartz: Owners profit as illegal housing poses many dangers

School Board Slumlord; Candidate Forum; Pedophile Still Teaching; Non-public Education “A Fraud”

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Slumlords on the School Board?
  2. Democratic Primary Candidate’s Forum Today, September 3
  3. Convicted pedophile still teaching at non-public school in East Ramapo
  4. Unregistered non-public schools are failing children
  5. Message from the editor

1) Slumlords on the School Board?

The president of the East Ramapo school board has made the news for owning an illegal boarding house in Spring Valley. The property is reported for lacking working smoke detectors, construction without a permit, and occupancy of uninhabitable space in the basement.

The Journal News: East Ramapo board chief’s complex has illegal subdivision, inspectors say

This is not the first time a school board member has made the news for unethical activity. In 2010, a school board member was cited by the health department for an illegal boarding house with occupancy of uninhabitable space and violations that were considered life threatening. Children (presumably East Ramapo students) were living in the building.

Preserve Ramapo: Slumlord Sits on East Ramapo School Board and Spring Valley Zoning Board

Both school board members were using the same property manager, who manages many properties throughout East Ramapo. The fact that many properties are unsafe and overcrowded has been common knowledge for many years. The Journal News has recently done a blistering series of articles on reckless real estate profiteering that is putting school children, among others, at risk:

The Journal News: Landlords profit from illegal, dangerous housing, fire officials say

The Journal News: Haphazard housing: Ramapo lax as landlords profit

2) Candidate’s Forum TODAY, September 3:

Come and hear from Candidates running in the Sept 10 Democratic Primary Election for: County Executive and Village of Spring Valley Mayor & Trustee

When: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Where: Louis Kurtz Civic Center, 9 North Main Street in Spring Valley

3) Convicted pedophile still teaching at non-public school in East Ramapo:

The following special report titled “Broken Trust” is as frightening as it is infuriating:

Sex abuse victim from New Square speaks exclusively to News 12

The DA calls a plea bargain for probation “an appropriate way to keep control of this individual”, but in the next clip, students reveal he remains in the classroom!

4) Unregistered non-public schools are failing children:

This article in The Jewish Daily Forward includes riveting audio by graduates of East Ramapo non-public schools whose diplomas are not recognized by colleges.  One characterizes his education there as “a pretend education” and “a fraud”. Your tax dollars subsidize services to those schools.

Struggle and Triumph of College for Hasidim

5) Message from the editor:

The above four articles may seem unrelated, but there is one common string connecting them: the bloc vote.  It is hard to imagine a school board member in any other district being re-elected after being exposed as a slumlord.  It happens in East Ramapo because of the bloc vote.  It is amazing that a convicted pedophile should receive a deal that has resulted in him being able to continue to work with children. Those protecting the pedophiles by intimidating victims control large blocs of votes. The control of these voters is made possible by the East Ramapo school district, which decades ago made a deal to look the other way as thousands of children in unregistered schools are denied their right to an education, in return for some temporary relief from the bloc vote. If you come to the forum today, and you get to ask a question, perhaps it should be if the candidate has made any deals for votes?

Dream Event Wednesday; Letter: Rescue the Kids of East Ramapo; Cuomo Disappoints Again

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. 50th Anniversary REALIZE THE DREAM! Event
  2. NAACP and JAMCCAR Host Candidate’s Forum
  3. Rockland, State Must Rescue the Kids of East Ramapo
  4. Videos from East Ramapo Underground
  5. Governor Cuomo Disappoints East Ramapo AGAIN!

1) 50th Anniversary REALIZE THE DREAM! Event:

Join us in this FREE Community Event to Celebrate the Advances while Empowering Ourselves to Help Rockland County. There will be: live music, and messages from community and religious leaders commemorating the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

When: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 7:30PM

Where: Grace Point Gospel Fellowship 384 New Hempstead Road. New City, NY

 For more information call (845) 379-0810

Sponsored by: Grace Point Gospel Fellowship, The Monel Show & Wake Up Rockland

 2) NAACP and JAMCCAR Host Candidate’s Forum

Come and hear from Candidates running in the Sept 10 Democratic Primary Election for: County Executive and Village of Spring Valley Mayor & Trustee

When: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Where: Louis Kurtz Civic Center, 9 North Main Street in Spring Valley

3) Rockland, state must rescue the kids of East Ramapo

Community View in The Journal News by Ed Day

The writer, a New City resident and Rockland County legislator, is the Preserve Rockland candidate for Rockland County Executive.

4) Videos from East Ramapo Underground:

East Ramapo complains about the Lottery Spin-up money that they requested.

East Ramapo can’t get it straight as they try to elect a President for the Board.

East Ramapo School Board tries to nominate a Vice President for the Board

Treasurer Bier: budget policy not enforced

D’Agostino good enough for the school district but not Aron Wieder?

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 3rd.

- East Ramapo Underground

5) Governor Cuomo Disappoints East Ramapo AGAIN!

The following letter is written from Peggy Hatton to Commissioner King because Governor Cuomo has not signed the bill to advance payment of lottery money to East Ramapo.  The East Ramapo school board doesn’t want the Lottery Spin-up money because the bill also has oversight of how the money will be spent!

The result is that the board cut another $3.5 million from the programs for the kids.  If you would like to tell Governor Cuomo how you feel about what is essentially a veto of help for the kids and oversight of our notorious school board, call him at: (518) 474-8390.

The letter also mentions that Peggy is moving to Florida.  We wish her well in her new home. She has done a lot for our kids, and will be missed.  Messages of thanks and good luck can be sent to eastramapounderground@hotmail.com

Dear Commissioner King,
I am writing this email to inform you that earlier this week, the BOE in East Ramapo cut 3.5 million dollars from the budget at the same time that they set the tax rate.

The reason they cut the 3.5 million dollars is because the Governor has not requested the Lottery Spin Up bill for his signature. School starts in less than three weeks. The Board is not happy about the oversight and accountability provisions of this bill. At the BOE meeting, they said that the bill had been ‘high jacked’ by the Assembly. In an normal school district, the BOE and Administration would embrace community input….but not East Ramapo.

These funds were supposed to be used this school year to bring back Art and Music Teachers, Nurses, extracurriculars, sports, etc. When I asked Dr. Klein what his plan was to teach regular Ed teachers how to teach Art and Music, he said there will be inservice sessions. None of the teachers I know were aware of any such training. Also, there is no plan that we are aware of to deal with the prep periods that the staff used during the Music and Art classes.

We are asking ourselves if your office was aware of these cuts since you were involved with the budgeting process, providing oversight from the deficits the BOE caused over the past few years? How could your office let this happen?

I believe that our students are going to suffer as a result of the politics that are being played out between East Ramapo and Albany. I am begging you to get involved and call the Governor to ask him to sign the bill today and free up the money that was promised to us so that our kids will have at least some kind of a normal school year and that our teachers and staff can be recalled for the first day on school. Our kids are already so disadvantaged, they cannot be ignored.

Due to a change in my husband’s employment, I will be moving to Florida in just a few days. I will keep involved in the East Ramapo issues as best I can. But I will be relying on others to be my eyes on the ground. It is even more important than ever that you take an active role in the East Ramapo. Our kids need your voice more than ever.

Regards,
Peggy Hatton

D’Agostino to go; Yeshiva loses Hillcrest lease

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. D’Agostino to go, but not soon enough!!!!
  2. Commissioner King Annuls Lease to Yeshiva Avir Yakov

1) D’Agostino to go, but not soon enough!!!

At the July 8 East Ramapo School Board meeting, called specially to deal with lawyer Chris Kirby’s notorious outbursts, the school board adjourned with a statement read by the board president, but took no action!!!

A rally was held prior to the meeting and during the executive session.

YouTube Videos of the Rally

The school board could have immediately terminated the contract with the law firm, as was done for previous counsel, but they did not.

They could have apologized to those who have been the victims of obscenities and bullying, but they did not.

Instead, they announced that D’Agostino had told them that he “may not have sufficient resources to service all of the legal needs of our district”.

The board president said that the “process” to “transition to other legal representation” would “begin immediately”.

The school board president never acknowledged that the actions of lawyers Kirby and D’Agostino were in violation of district policy.  NO ACTION was taken to enforce these policies.  It remains unclear what the board means when they say “immediately”.

News Coverage:

ABC News: School board to hire new lawyer after hostile exchange

NBC News: School Board Fires Lawyer After Expletive-Laced Tirade Caught on Video

The Journal News: East Ramapo to split with firm after lawyer’s profane outburst

The Journal News: East Ramapo to keep paying law firm until new one hired

The Journal News: Editorial: East Ramapo’s split with law firm won’t end woes

The Rockland County Times: D’Agostino Law Firm will be replaced

2) Commissioner King Annuls Lease to Yeshiva Avir Yakov:

New York State Education Commissioner King has upheld a petition filed by Robert Forrest in September of 2011 against the East Ramapo school district. Commissioner King annulled the lease of Hillcrest Elementary School to Congregation Yeshiva Avir Yakov of New Square.

It has been estimated that the lease was losing a half million dollars per year compared to what a competitive lease could have brought for East Ramapo students and taxpayers.

The Journal News: State education chief blocks East Ramapo school lease to yeshiva

The Rockland County Times: No Hillcrest Yeshiva

RESPECT Rally Monday July 8

Power of Ten Update

Reminder: Respect Rally Monday July 8

The Save Our Schools Coalition announces ‘Rally for Respect’, a Peaceful Protest in East Ramapo to demand immediate termination of the law firm D’Agostino and Minerva, and to request state intervention.

THE DETAILS:

Rally for RESPECT

Monday, July 8 at 6:45 PM

105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley, NY

The law firm of D’Agostino and Minerva was retained by the East Ramapo school board in 2008. Since then there have been numerous outbursts and unprofessional conduct on behalf of the lawyers, specifically Christopher Kirby and Albert D’Agostino. This latest incident took place July 2nd and was caught on film, the video can be seen here: http://youtu.be/qsOcR2mYKq0

The public is outraged by the actions of Chris Kirby and demand the law firm be terminated for their repeated disrespect toward the public school community. Local media and elected officials agree:

  • “These actions were reprehensible and uncalled for in their entirety and demonstrate a lack of professional conduct that should never be tolerated.” – Senator David Carlucci
  • “The ERCSD Board should terminate the contract with Minerva and D’Agostino now. They set a poor example for all of the students, public and private, in the East Ramapo School District.” – Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee
  • The Journal News: East Ramapo must fire outside counsel – now

We will also be expressing our desire for state intervention in our school district. Our school board can no longer provide what is fair for the public school students and it is up to governor Cuomo to intervene.

  • “State intervention is the only answer that I can see at this point. Only time will tell what the solution will be, but it looks pretty dire if it continues this way for East Ramapo and the community.” – Antonio Luciano, parent and videographer

Let’s make this a truly massive and meaningful rally! The theme is ‘RESPECT’.  Those with a creative impulse are invited to make signs that convey that message. The word ‘RESPECT’ should be featured. Please make every effort to attend, and bring as many people as you can!!!!

You can also join the event on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/330386417093071/

Send an email to Governor Cuomo, Assemblyman Zebrowski, and The NY State Bar Association, asking them to join the Journal News, Senator Carlucci, and Assemblywoman Jaffee in condemning the behavior of East Ramapo Lawyers: http://poweroften.us/about/fire-dagostino/

Justice is Coming to East Ramapo, and WE can make it happen!

Lawyer for East Ramapo Explodes with Obscenity and Hostility; Rally for Respect Monday

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Lawyer for East Ramapo Explodes with Obscenity and Hostility!!!
  2. Rally for Respect Monday

1) Lawyer for East Ramapo Explodes with Obscenity and Hostility!!!

At the July 2 East Ramapo School Board meeting lawyer Chris Kirby interrupted a parent during the public speaking portion at the end of the meeting: http://youtu.be/x1P-BWF5X4s.

He then threatened to fight another parent (caution: this portion contains unedited profanity): http://youtu.be/qsOcR2mYKq0

This is now the sixth time that a lawyer from the firm of Minerva and D’Agostino has cursed at or threatened a parent or student.

News Coverage:

ABC News: Obscenities fly after school board meeting

The Journal News: East Ramapo must fire outside counsel – now

NY Daily News: East Ramapo district school board lawyer Christopher Kirby launches into profanity-laced tirade at parents

UK Daily Mail: Shocking video shows school’s attorney screaming obscenities in parking lot at mother who thought he had laughed at her special needs son at board meeting

2) Rally for Respect:

The whole of Rockland and beyond is reacting with shock at the continued abusive behavior of the East Ramapo School Board and their attorney. The Save Our Schools Coalition is calling for a non-violent protest immediately preceding the next school board meeting on Monday, July 8. Let’s make this a truly massive and meaningful rally! The theme is ‘RESPECT’.  Those with a creative impulse are invited to make signs that convey that message. The word ‘RESPECT’ should be featured. You can also join the event on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/330386417093071/

THE DETAILS:

Rally for RESPECT

Monday, July 8 at 6:45 PM

105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley, NY

Please make every effort to attend, and bring as many people as you can!!!!

Commissioner King talks East Ramapo on Public Radio

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Message From a Reader
  2. Three Days Left to Sign to Save East Ramapo
  3. Budget Revote Tuesday
  4. Commissioner King discusses East Ramapo on WNYC
  5. New Video Featured on Power of Ten

1) Hillcrest Resident Encourages Contacting Governor Cuomo

I urge everyone who received Steve’s message about contacting the governor’s office about the situation in the East Ramapo Schools to call or e-mail Governor Cuomo immediately.  I called today, and the phone was answered without any waiting, the representative listened to everything I said without interrupting, and I could hear typing sounds.  I was told that the message would be passed on.  It was very easy, and it only took about five minutes out of my day.  If all 4,000+ who signed the petition make a personal contact, there will be no doubt in Albany that we care about our children who have been left behind, and we expect the state to take decisive, fair action.  Thank you.

Nancy Mirsky

Member:  Neighbors of Hillcrest

The Governor’s number is (518) 474-8390

You can also Tweet him: @NYGovCuomo #SaveEastRamapo

His email is gov.cuomo@chamber.state.ny.us

Talking Points:

  • East Ramapo Central School District was once considered among the best in NY State. Today, the graduation rate is just 74%, and for Hispanic Students just 54%!  Tell him he cannot let the destruction of East Ramapo continue!
  • The East Ramapo School Board has gutted public education! They have dramatically increased class sizes, decreased or eliminated arts, music, advanced placement and sports programs.
  • East Ramapo is not just another district with budget problems.  Our board has illegally diverted funds to segregated private religious schools, depriving public school students of their right to a quality education.  NY State MUST intervene!

2) Our Petition Is Now Over 5,700!!!

Have you signed yet? The petition is open to all people, regardless of your age, residency status, or where you live, so please invite all your friends far and near!

http://poweroften.us/sign-the-petition/

Join the Petition Event on Facebook:

3) Budget Revote

The revote will be held Tuesday, June 18. For info on registration, polling places, etc., go to www.poweroften.us/voting-info. The administration is saying that if this budget is voted down, there will be no sports at all next year, among other extremely serious cuts. They are also saying that the ‘yes’ budget contains uncertainty and that they will reduce the spending amount if they don’t get certain revenue sources.  Uncertainty about the actual result of the ‘yes’ vote, along with a feeling of being abused and manipulated, and a looming collision with state regulators has many of those who have always supported school budgets thinking they may stay home or even vote ‘no’. However, the threat of losing essential programs such as AP classes and sports may bring out many new ‘yes’ voters.

4) East Ramapo on WNYC Again!

On The Brian Lehrer Show, John King, New York State education commissioner and president of the University of the State of New York, talks about the state’s response to the East Ramapo school funding dispute.

Listen to the show

5) New Video

A new documentary video by local videographer Lisa Karrer is featured on the homepage: www.poweroften.us

Last Chance to Sign the Save East Ramapo Petition

Power of Ten Update

Last Chance to Sign the Save East Ramapo Petition:

PETITION CLOSING DATE IS JUNE 15TH

The East Ramapo Central School District was once considered among the best in NY State. Today, the graduation rate is just 74%, and for Hispanic Students just 54%!  School board members have diverted funds to promote religious schools and gutted the funding of the public schools. They have discriminated against and segregated students on the basis of race and religion. At the same time they have created a massive budget deficit which threatens BOCES payments and thereby neighboring school districts.

Sign the petition at http://poweroften.us/sign-the-petition/

A bill, S4183-2013: “Relates to intervention in chronically underperforming school districts” would give the NY State Education Department the power to intervene. This bill has the support of NYSED, the chairs of both the Senate and Assembly education committees, and all of the state level elected officials representing East Ramapo.

Sign the petition at http://poweroften.us/sign-the-petition/

Then, join the Facebook event and invite your friends to sign too!

Tell Governor Cuomo and the leaders of the NY State Senate and Assembly that they must pass this bill to INTERVENE for the children of East Ramapo!!!

This petition is open to all people, regardless of your age, residency status, or where you live. Please add your name to those calling for state intervention for East Ramapo by signing TODAY!

Massive Student Walkout in East Ramapo

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Student Walkout
  2. Save East Ramapo Petition Now More Important Than Ever
  3. Budget Revote
  4. Message from the Editor

1) Student Walkout:

Hundreds of Spring Valley and Ramapo High School Students walked out of school on Wednesday to demand their right to a quality education.  The best estimate of the number of participants came from News 12, which had to dispatch a helicopter to capture the full extent of the 1,000 strong who attended the walkout!

Journal News: Hundreds of students walk out to protest cuts

Newsday: East Ramapo high school students walk out to protest cuts, poor conditions

2) Our Petition Is Now Over 4,000!!!

Have you signed yet? The petition is open to all people, regardless of your age, residency status, or where you live, so please invite all your friends far and near!

http://poweroften.us/sign-the-petition/

Join the Petition Event on Facebook:

3) Budget Revote 

The Board of Education of the East Ramapo Central School District will hold a regular meeting on Tuesday, June 4, 2013, beginning at 7:00 PM at the central administration building at 105 South Madison Ave, Spring Valley.  A public hearing on the proposed 2013-2014 budget will be held at 7:45 P.M. The revote will be held Tuesday, June 18.

4) Message from the Editor

Once again, East Ramapo activists brought out more voters than any other district in the area. Why is it that our students and families cannot get a break? When the racial and ethnic makeup of the student body matched that of the larger community, there was never a problem. Everyone wanted to pitch in for the kids.  Today, thousands of our neighbors are told not to participate in public education, and they are being told they don’t need to care about other people’s children. It is my firm belief that if people knew how much suffering is being caused they would not go along with this. However, they are told not to use the internet, or even watch TV.  It seems incredible that these things are happening in a sleepy NY suburb in the year 2013.  As has been reported in several national news sources, the racial/ethnic/religious nature of the divide has people very worried that hate could grow and fester. At this point in time, it seems as if only state intervention can protect education and defuse the hurt feelings. The time has come for us to hold our elected representatives accountable.  The first step is to get as many signatures as possible on our petition.  Please sign and share today.  Justice is coming to East Ramapo, and WE can make it happen!

Steve White, editor

Election Reports; Teacher up for a Grammy

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Election Reports
  2. Message From Our candidates
  3. Save East Ramapo Bill Now More Important Than Ever
  4. East Ramapo Featured on NPR Again
  5. Former E Ramapo Music Teacher Up for a Grammy

1) Election Reports:

East Ramapo school budget defeated, Orthodox-backed candidates win

East Ramapo school officials approve more cuts in wake of failed budget

UPDATE: Ramapo Revisited, School Board Election and the Future of a Community

Hatton Not Happy With E. Ramapo Vote

2) Message from Our Candidates:

The candidates Margaret Tuck, Eustache Clerveaux and Robert Forrest would like to thank each and every Grand Mother, Grand Father, Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Aunt and Uncle who came out to support us given the challenges before us. Although we lost, we must keep moving forward. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “If WE can’t fly, we must run. If WE can’t run, we must walk. If WE can’t walk, we must crawl but whatever we do WE MUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

NEXT STEPS:

3) Save East Ramapo Bill Now More Important Than Ever

This bill gives the NYS Commissioner of Education more power to intervene in East Ramapo

The petition is open to all people, regardless of your age, residency status, or where you live, so please invite all your friends far and near

http://poweroften.us/sign-the-petition/

Join the Petition Event on Facebook:

4) East Ramapo featured on NPR Again!

Journal News Reporter Mareesa Nicosia was the featured guest on the Brian Lehrer show today. http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/2013/may/23/ramapo-school-board-vote/

5) Former E Ramapo Music Teacher Up for a Grammy

Former music teacher and director of the World Famous East Ramapo Marching Band Michael E. Smith has made the quarterfinals for the first ever Grammy award for a music educator! He was chosen as one of 217 finalists out of over 30,000 nominations. After being let go by East Ramapo, Mr. Smith took the Nyack Marching Band to their first ever state competition … and WON!  Wherever Mr. Smith is teaching, he will forever belong to East Ramapo, his alma mater.  We are all sending POSITIVE POWER OF TEN ENERGY for his continued success!!!

Special Ed Parents: Important Meeting Monday May 13; NAACP Forum Reports

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Special Ed Parents Meeting Monday
  2. Candidate Forum Reports
  3. Message from the editor

1) Special Ed Parents Meeting

Does your child struggle in school?

If so, is he/she getting the necessary services to make him/her successful?

Is your child getting ALL the special education services that he/she is entitled to by law?

Do you worry your child will be left behind?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you MUST come to this meeting!

Guest speakers: Attorneys from Advocates for Justice – Laura Barbieri & Arthur Schwartz and NAACP President – Willie J. Trotman

Date: Monday, May 13, 2013

Location: Champion Day camp 175 W. Clarkstown Rd. New City

Time: 7 – 9 PM

2) Candidate Forum Reports

Thursday Evening some 125 people turned out to the annual candidate’s forum hosted by NAACP and JAMCARR.  Issues discussed included the lack of respect shown to the parents and students in the audience at board meetings and the continuing wildly inaccurate numbers being thrown around and presented as a ‘budget’.  There were also many questions from the audience regarding the quality of education being provided in the schools.

Media coverage of the forum:

Three E. Ramapo candidates reject NAACP invite

East Ramapo schools contender ditches forum for Hasidic rally

3) Message from the editor:

It is truly sad that one of our school board members would choose to attend a rally against the internet instead of attending the NAACP forum.  The internet has revolutionized, science, socialization, news delivery and freedom of information.  It epitomizes the freedom of thought which is at heart of democracy.  Tyrants and dictators censor the internet, because of the ‘danger’ of an informed public.  It is the very uncontrollableness of the internet that makes it a mainstay of scientific and democratic thought and the bane of tyrants and dictators.

Did our school board candidate carefully research the issue before deciding where to go on Thursday?  Did he perhaps have a chance to read this amazing article on the subject before he threw his lot in with the anti-internet crowd? Or perhaps he is blinded by a romanticized notion of the ultra-Orthodox way of life – the heartbreaking irony; multiculturalism and religious tolerance touted by a community that has zero tolerance for any way of life other than its own.

I had a chance to speak with former East Ramapo administrator Pedro Santana after the forum. Pedro was in the process of re-designing the environment of our schools when the Hasidic dominated board fired him.  As Sir Ken Robinson has pointed out, “The real role of leadership in education … is not and should not be command and control. The real role of leadership is climate control, creating a climate of possibility.”

Interestingly, after they ousted Mr. Santana despite the pleas of public school parents, students, and staff to keep him, a teacher was hired to work in a yeshiva despite having provided inaccurate information about her credentials.  When the hiring was questioned, the school board president said if that’s who the (yeshiva) parents want for their kids, who are we to question them?

Another prominent figure in the life of the students of East Ramapo, Michael Smith, was also let go in a crushing blow to student and staff morale.  Can it be coincidence that the two most creative and charismatic male figures in our community were so publicly and ruthlessly severed from the students who loved them?

I believe the Hasidic dominated school board has systematically and purposefully decimated the public school system as a means of lowering the property values and inducing an emigration of public school users. At the same time they have deliberately stoked the fires of divisiveness as a cover for their calculating plans to enrich an elite few real estate speculators.

A report by the Journal News last year revealed for the first time the professions of the board members who hold the majority position on the board, but have never released information about themselves to the parents whose sole concern is their children’s future or the wider community which has invested billions of dollars to build a world class school system. Their investment is now in the hands of people whose interests are antithetical to public education and freedom of thought.

I apologize for the overly long editorial.  I hope you have had time to follow the links, and feel motivated to get involved.  In addition to Voting for Clerveaux Tuck and Forrest on May 21, you can sign the petition and check out other ways to help at http://poweroften.us/about/what-can-i-do/

Steven White, editor of The Power of Ten

East Ramapo Candidates Forum Today

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Candidates Forum Today
  2. Online Petition over 3,500!
  3. Is Divisiveness Dangerous?
  4. East Ramapo Student featured on NPR

1) Candidates Forum Today:

Thursday May 9, at 6:30 pm

Louis Kurtz Center, 9 N. Main St in Spring Valley

NAACP and other community organizations have teamed up to provide the community an opportunity to get to know the candidates and the issues.  All are invited.

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/149441745236212/

Before the Forum, tune in to the East Ramapo Underground Radio Show on WRCR-1300AM right after the ten o’clock news.

2) Save East Ramapo Petition has 3,500 signatures!!!

Thank you to all who have signed the petition for the “Save East Ramapo” bill. This bill gives the NYS Commissioner of Education more power to intervene in East Ramapo

This petition is open to all people, regardless of your age, residency status, or where you live, so please invite all your friends far and near

http://poweroften.us/sign-the-petition/

Join the Petition Event on Facebook:

3) Is Divisiveness Dangerous?

An important new article from The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange examines the impact of divisiveness in East Ramapo.

The author, a professor of journalism at CUNY, has masterfully captured the clearest picture of our divided community by interviewing not just the politicians and activists, but the ‘regular’ people:

“Their kids, the private kids, and our kids, they’re the same amount of American, you know,” said Elsa Palma, in Spanish from behind a glass counter filled with cosmetics. “We’re in America. Everyone deserves a chance.”

I hope everyone will take time to read this article:

4) East Ramapo Student featured on NPR THIS AM at 11:00

Olivia Castor, Spring Valley High School senior and Vice President of the Spring Valley NAACP Youth Council will appear on the WNYC Brian Lehrer Show this morning in the 11:10 segment.

Ms. Castor will be attending Harvard University in September 2013. You may remember her presentation at the Save Our Schools Forum in April. She was recently featured in Benjamin Wallace-Wells NY Magazine story “Them and Them.”

Budget Hearing Today; Court Appearance Report; Powerful New Article

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Court Appearance Report
  2. Online Petition WOW!!!
  3. Upcoming Events
  4. New Media Coverage

1) Court Appearance Report

Newsday: East Ramapo lawsuit: Parents can demand documents on special ed. cases

Journal News: Judge allows class-action suit against East Ramapo to proceed

Learn more about the civil rights lawsuit

2) Save East Ramapo Petition has 3,174 signatures!!!

Thank you to all who have signed the petition for the “Save East Ramapo” bill. This bill gives the NYS Commissioner of Education more power to intervene in East Ramapo

This petition is open to all people, regardless of your age, residency status, or where you live, so please invite all your friends far and near

http://poweroften.us/sign-the-petition/

Join the Petition Event on Facebook:

3) Upcoming Events:

School Board Budget Hearing

Tuesday, May 7 at 7:30 PM (Today!)

105 S Madison Ave Spring Valley

NAACP Candidates Forum

Thursday May 9, at 6:30 pm

Louis Kurtz Center, Main/Madison Avenue in Spring Valley.

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/149441745236212/

4) New Media Coverage:

An important new article from The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange:

Public Kid vs. Private Kid Divide in One New York Community Turns Dangerous

Listen and call in on Friday:

East Ramapo Underground Radio Show

Friday, May 10th on WRCR-1300AM right after the ten o’clock news.

Court Appearance Thursday; Petition to Save East Ramapo is on Fire

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Petition on Fire, now share, share, share!
  2. Court Appearance Thursday
  3. East Ramapo subject of national education blog
  4. NAACP Events: Candidate Forum and Student Debate

1) Save East Ramapo Petition has 1,914 signatures!!!

Thank you to all who have signed the petition for the “Save East Ramapo” bill. This bill gives the NYS Commissioner of Education more power to intervene in East Ramapo.

This petition is open to all people, regardless of your age, residency status, or where you live, so please share with all your friends far and near.

http://poweroften.us/sign-the-petition/

Join the Petition Event on Facebook

2) Come to the Federal Civil Rights Court Date Thursday:

Date: Thursday May 2 at 3:00 PM

Federal Courthouse Room 421 – Judge George Yanthis

300 Quarropas Street White Plains, NY

Learn more about the civil rights lawsuit

3) Diane Ravitch Blogs about East Ramapo

Diane Ravitch’s Blog post: When a Religious Sect Took over Public Schools is one of the top posts on this popular nationally acclaimed education blog.

4) NAACP Events

The Student Debate Will be held Wednesday May 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm at The Nyack Center 58 Depew Ave in Nyack.

NAACP Nyack Youth Council and Spring Valley Youth Council Present the Great Debate: Nyack Youth Council – Vs. – Spring Valley Youth Council.  Please come join us as our youth come together to educate the community on two very important issues: The second Amendment right to bear and keep arms & The NYC Stop and Frisk Policy

The Candidates Forum will be held on May 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm at the Louis Kurtz Center, Main/Madison Avenue in Spring Valley. 

The Spring Valley NAACP and several Community Organizations have collaborated in hosting a Candidates Forum.  The Forum will introduce to the community at large, all candidates seeking the Trustee position for East Ramapo Central School District.  All six candidates have been invited and will attend this Forum. 

 

Our Petition is on Fire; Another Court Date Change

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Court Appearance New Date
  2. Online Petition Takes Off Fast!
  3. Campaign for May 21 Trustee Election Begins Saturday
  4. Board President Quits
  5. Homework help now available at School Board Meetings
  6. Message from the editor

1) Federal Civil Rights Court Date DELAYED:

OUR DAY IN COURT HAS BEEN DELAYED AGAIN:

New Date: May 2 at 3:00 PM

Federal Courthouse Room 421 – Judge George Yanthis

300 Quarropas Street White Plains, NY

Learn more about the civil rights lawsuit

2) Save East Ramapo Petition has 1,155 signatures

Thank you to all who have signed the petition for the “Save East Ramapo” bill. This bill gives the NYS Commissioner of Education more power to intervene in East Ramapo.

This petition is open to all people, regardless of your age, residency status, or where you live, so please invite all your friends far and near.

http://poweroften.us/sign-the-petition/

Join the Petition Event on Facebook:

3) Campaign for May 21 Trustee Election Begins Saturday

This year’s election campaign will kick off on Saturday.  We will meet in the parking lot in front of the Bravo Supermarket in Hillcrest and immediately begin canvassing neighborhoods.  Please wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.  Our candidates this year are Margaret Tuck, Eustache Clerveaux, and Robert Forrest.

Where: Parking lot at Bravo Supermarket, 289 North Main Street in Hillcrest

When: Saturday, April 27 at 12:00 Noon

4) Board President Quits

Newsday Article: Daniel Schwartz, East Ramapo school board president, quits

Lohud Article: East Ramapo board chief Schwartz resigns

5) Child Care now available at School Board Meetings

The PTA is now providing child care and homework help at school board meetings to make it easier for parents to attend.

 The next school board meeting is May 7 at 7:30 PM

105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley

 Thanks to many who came out to the last school board meeting. For those who could not make it, highlights are available as always at www.youtube.com/luckylouproduction

 6) Message from the editor:

Are you aware that the infamous attorney for East Ramapo, Albert D’Agostino, verbally abused a student, in front of multiple witnesses, at a school board meeting? NO EMPLOYEE of ERCSD should be allowed to VERBALLY ABUSE a student and get away with it! We have ZERO tolerance for students who are BULLIES and we will have ZERO TOLERANCE for ADULTS WHO BULLY STUDENTS! It is unacceptable and unprofessional and students are demanding that the ERCSD Lawyer be FIRED.

The East Ramapo School Board has now had 5 presidents in 4 years.  Two have resigned while in office.  Meanwhile two board members are not running for re-election this year. I believe these developments are the result of the public spotlight which has been put on their actions by the major media, by Advocates for Justice, and by YOU, the reader. Keep up the good work!

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!

Court Date Delayed; Petition for Intervention; Budget News

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Civil Rights Court Appearance DELAYED
  2. New Petition Online: The “Save East Ramapo” Bill
  3. School Board Meeting Next Tuesday
  4. Message from the editor

1) Federal Civil Rights Court Date DELAYED:

OUR DAY IN COURT HAS BEEN DELAYED AGAIN:

New Date: April 29 at 3:00 PM

Federal Courthouse Room 421 – Judge George Yanthis

300 Quarropas Street White Plains, NY

Learn more about the civil rights lawsuit

2) New Petition Online: The “Save East Ramapo” Bill

Please sign the petition for the “Save East Ramapo” bill. This bill gives the NYS Commissioner of Education more power to intervene in East Ramapo.

This bill has the support of NYSED, the chairs of both the Senate and Assembly education committees, and all of the state level elected officials representing East Ramapo.

Tell Governor Cuomo and the leaders of the NY State Senate and Assembly that they must pass this bill to INTERVENE for the children of East Ramapo!!!

This petition is open to all people, regardless of your age, residency status, or where you live, so please invite all your friends far and near.

http://poweroften.us/sign-the-petition/

Join the Petition Event on Facebook:

3) School Board Meeting Tuesday

April 23 at 7:30 PM

105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley

The budget will be presented.  Details of the budget were first released tonight as reported in Newsday:

http://newyork.newsday.com/rockland/east-ramapo-budget-crisis-sports-teachers-on-chopping-block-as-district-contends-with-shortfall-1.5086446

On the chopping block:

• Seven elementary art teachers

• Seven elementary music teachers

• Seven elementary librarians

• 15 special education teachers

• 16 middle school and high school teachers

• All middle school sports and some high school sports, including varsity golf, cheerleading, junior varsity tennis and junior varsity volleyball

• Seventh-grade foreign language

4) Message from the editor:

Are you aware that the infamous attorney for East Ramapo, Albert D’Agostino, verbally abused a student, in front of multiple witnesses, at a school board meeting? NO EMPLOYEE of ERCSD should be allowed to VERBALLY ABUSE a student and get away with it! We have ZERO tolerance for students who are BULLIES and we will have ZERO TOLERANCE for ADULTS WHO BULLY STUDENTS! It is unacceptable and unprofessional and students are demanding that the ERCSD Lawyer be FIRED.

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!

Forum Recap; Court Date Thursday

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Community Forum Recap
  2. Your Presence Requested at Civil Rights Court Appearance Thursday
  3. School Board Meetings Tomorrow and Next Tuesday

1) Community Forum Recap

Thank you to all who came out on Saturday for the Save Our Schools Community Forum. Many thanks and respect go to Bob Slade, James Mtume and Bob Pickett of the OPEN LINE Radio Show.  Bob’s philosophy on life is……”Your success in life is measure not by what you do for yourself, but what you do for others…a good deed done always comes back to you.” This could never be truer than when doing good deeds for children.

Our goals for this event were to

  • provide information about the situation in East Ramapo, what is being done and what solutions are being discussed
  • involve the larger community in sharing information and proposing solutions

Presentations were made by Arthur Schwartz of Advocates for Justice regarding the status of the lawsuit, and by Olivia Castor about issues in the High Schools. Everyone attending received the handout “What Can I Do?

Members of the community expressed concern with issues including school security and suggested tactics such as a boycott of school. Because of the extremely high turnout (more than 500 people), many questions from the audience were not addressed. However, question cards were saved and we will be sharing these with Power of Ten readers in future updates. One panelist also felt there was not enough time to share what she had come to say; her comments can be found here.

One of the most intriguing and hopeful new developments was that our NY State Representatives are sponsoring a bill which would give the Education Department more authority to intervene in East Ramapo. A petition supporting this bill is now available at: www.poweroften.us/petition

The complete forum is available online here: http://new.livestream.com/ggf/events/2027694

2) Federal Civil Rights Court Date:

PLEASE COME AND ATTEND OUR FIRST DAY IN COURT:

April 18 at 10:00 AM

Federal Courthouse Room 421 – Judge George Yanthis

300 Quarropas Street White Plains, NY

Learn more about the civil rights lawsuit

3) School Board Meetings Tomorrow and Tuesday

April 16 and 23 at 7:30 PM

105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley

Are you aware that the infamous attorney for East Ramapo, Albert D’Agostino, verbally abused a student, in front of multiple witnesses, at a school board meeting? NO EMPLOYEE of ERCSD should be allowed to VERBALLY ABUSE a student and get away with it! We have ZERO tolerance for students who are BULLIES and we will have ZERO TOLERANCE for ADULTS WHO BULLY STUDENTS! It is unacceptable and unprofessional and students are demanding that the ERCSD Lawyer be FIRED.

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!

 

 

4-6-13 Rally Tuesday, Forum Saturday – RESPECT

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. RESPECT Rally on Tuesday
  2. Save Our Schools Community Forum Saturday
  3. Federal Civil Rights Court Date

1) RESPECT Rally on Tuesday

NO EMPLOYEE of ERCSD should be allowed to VERBALLY ABUSE a student and get away with it! We have ZERO tolerance for students who are BULLIES and we will have ZERO TOLERANCE for ADULTS WHO BULLY STUDENTS! It is unacceptable and unprofessional and we are demanding that the ERCSD Lawyer be FIRED. This has gone too far! Come to the rally and support your classmates! #RespectUs

Tuesday, April 9 at 7:00 PM

105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley

(at East Ramapo district office, board meeting will follow at 7:30)

2) Come to the “East Ramapo Save Our Schools Community Forum”

The forum will feature Bob Slade, James Mtume and Bob Pickett of the OPEN LINE Radio Show which can be heard on Sunday mornings from 10 – 12 on 107.5 WBLS FM.

Advocates for Justice lawyers will be there to update you about the class action civil rights lawsuit. Student leaders will be there to tell you what is really happening in our schools.  NAACP will be there to report on the federal civil rights complaints. Our elected officials will be there to report on what is happening at the estate level. There will be information about charter school applications, changes in class size and special education services.

Sign up on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/493278877386547/

THEN PLEASE INVITE ALL YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS TO THE EVENT!!!

The details:

DATE: Saturday, April 13

TIME: 5:00 to 8:00 PM

LOCATION: Gracepoint Gospel Fellowship, 384 New Hempstead Rd, New City, NY

3) Federal Civil Rights Court Date:

PLEASE COME AND ATTEND OUR FIRST DAY IN COURT:

April 18 at 10:00 AM

Federal Courthouse Room 421 – Judge George Yanthis

300 Quarropas Street White Plains, NY

Learn more about the civil rights lawsuit

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!

3-24-13 East Ramapo Makes National Headlines

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Our Issue Gets National Attention
  2. WBLS FM to Broadcast East Ramapo Forum
  3. Civil Rights Court Date Rescheduled
  4. Fundraiser Rescheduled

1) Our Issue Gets National Attention:

The national media has taken notice of our unique situation in East Ramapo. Jim Fitzgerald, a reporter for the Associated Press, came to the March 19th board meeting.

His article is entitled “Barbs of racism, anti-Semitism in NY school clash.”

To see just how many places this article appears, Google the title. You will be amazed!

The report focuses on the divisiveness caused by lack of representation in governance of the schools. While New York’s system of local control works well most of the time, when there is a division in the population it can be dysfunctional. State Law needs to be amended to restrict local control when it is functioning poorly, and provide assistance where needed.

Read the article in The Wall Street Journal here: http://online.wsj.com/article/APa60314778f984cf7ba0ccce04d58e642.html

2) Community Forum in April to be broadcast on WBLS – FM

This is YOUR opportunity to get together with others who cares about CHILDREN GETTING AN EDUCATION!!!

Whether you live in East Ramapo or not, THIS AFFECTS YOU!!!

So come and join us in a community forum; with a presentation of the latest information and an opportunity for everyone to participate!

Sign up on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/493278877386547/

The details:

Saturday, April 13 from 5:00 to 8:00 PM, at Gracepoint Gospel Fellowship, 384 New Hempstead Rd, New City, NY

This Forum will be broadcast on WBLS FM Radio

3) Federal Civil Rights Court Date Rescheduled:

OUR DAY IN COURT HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TO:

April 18 at 10:00 AM

Federal Courthouse Room 421 – Judge George Yanthis

300 Quarropas Street White Plains, NY

4) Fundraiser for Advocates for Justice is Rescheduled:

The “Save Our Schools Coalition” fundraising event has been rescheduled to Sunday, April 21 from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM

For more info and to RSVP: http://new.evite.com/l/BEY76Q5OQP

 

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!

 

3-15-2013

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Commissioner King replies to our petition
  2. Newsday Editorial on profanity-spewing lawyer
  3. You can file a complaint too!
  4. Civil Rights Case in Court Tuesday
  5. Fundraiser March 30th

1) Commissioner King writes an answer to our petition:

Hon. Dr. John B. King, Jr., NY State Commissioner of Education, has replied to our petition asking that the state intervene in the East Ramapo School District! The Commissioner writes “I share your concerns regarding the district’s financial conditions and its effects on educational programming” and that he is “prepared to take escalating action, as authorized by law.”

The Commissioner also stated he believes “part of the solution is to enact the Board of Regents’ legislative proposal (attached) to authorize the Department to intervene in chronically underperforming school districts.”

This legislation would give the commissioner much more authority to intervene in East Ramapo.

It was sponsored by all state legislators representing East Ramapo when first introduced last year, as well as the chairs of both Education Committees. Read the summary here.

To ALL those who signed and wrote heartfelt comments in the petition, THANK YOU!

The list of signers and comments is available here: http://poweroften.us/fact-sheet/highlights/petition-for-monitor/petition-signers/

Pictures of parents and students delivering the petition are available: http://poweroften.us/fact-sheet/highlights/petition-for-monitor/

News coverage of the commissioner’s answers available here: http://www.lohud.com/article/20130314/NEWS03/303140043/East-Ramapo-activist-Ed-commish-heard-us-

2) Newsday Editorial on profanity-spewing lawyer:

The attorney for the East Ramapo School District verbally attacked a student of the district using language which would be bleeped out on cable TV. The incident happened on school grounds on March 5, just after the school board walked out of the meeting to avoid a 15 minute “students corner” segment. This was not just the attorney using rough language, this was verbal abuse in the form of “You are a piece of (expletive deleted)!”

Several people witnessed the attack, including a reporter for New York Newsday.

Newsday: Profanity-spewing East Ramapo lawyer needs to learn a lesson

3) You can file a complaint too!

The mother of the student has filed a complaint against the lawyer

As a taxpayer in East Ramapo, You are Mr. D’Agostino’s client. You have the right to complain about his behavior.

Power of Ten has created a form letter that you can print, sign and send to submit your complaint.

Complaints about the attorney’s behavior can also be sent by email to: East Ramapo School Board BoardofEducation@ercsd.k12.ny.us and Superintendent Klein at JOKlein@ercsd.k12.ny.us

4) Federal Civil Rights Case First Court Date

PLEASE COME TO OUR FIRST DAY IN COURT

Tuesday, March 19 at 9:30 AM

Federal Courthouse Room 421 – Judge George Yanthis

300 Quarropas Street White Plains, NY

5) March 30th Fundraiser for Advocates for Justice:

Join the “Save Our Schools Coalition” for a fundraising event celebrating our fantastic students, and helping Advocates for Justice fight for civil rights and equality for East Ramapo. It will be a fun afternoon of auctioneering, guest speakers, food/beverages and musical entertainment. March 30 from 2 – 5 PM. Suggested Donation is $50.00. Donations to Advocates for Justice are tax deductible.

Please RSVP: http://new.evite.com/l/BEY76Q5OQP

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!

 

3-10-13

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. School Attorney Curses at Student
  2. Fundraiser March 30th
  3. Calling all Candidates
  4. Report of the Rally on March 5

1) School Attorney Curses at Student:

The attorney for the East Ramapo School District verbally attacked a student of the district using language which would be bleeped out on cable TV. The incident happened on school grounds on March 5, just after the school board walked out of the meeting to avoid a 15 minute “students corner” segment. This was not just the attorney using rough language, this was verbal abuse in the form of “You are a piece of (expletive deleted)!”

Several people witnessed the attack, including a reporter for New York Newsday.

Her report can be found here: East Ramapo schools attorney curses at student after board meeting

Video of the school board walking out rather than allowing 15 minutes of student comments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBC_m-SSLnc

Complaints about the attorney’s behavior can be sent to: East Ramapo School Board c/o Cathy Russell CRUSSELL@ercsd.k12.ny.us and Superintendent Klein at JOKlein@ercsd.k12.ny.us

2) March 30th Fundraiser for Advocates for Justice:

Join the “Save Our Schools Coalition” for a fundraising event celebrating our fantastic students, and helping Advocates for Justice fight for civil rights and equality for East Ramapo. It will be a fun afternoon of auctioneering, guest speakers, food/beverages and musical entertainment. March 30 from 2 – 5 PM. Suggested Donation is $50.00. Donations to Advocates for Justice are tax deductible.

Please RSVP: http://new.evite.com/l/BEY76Q5OQP

3) Calling All Candidates:

The Board of Education election is fast approaching. There is a lot at stake for the public school students. As many of you know, there is a huge budget deficit that threatens the very foundation of education for every East Ramapo student. We need 3 candidates who are thoroughly familiar with all issues facing the district. The East Ramapo Stakeholders for Public Education has experience in assisting candidates in forming a unified campaign and platform based on community concerns; as well as providing voter information, coordinating volunteers, and fundraising for school board candidates.

If you or someone you know is considering running for school board, please have a look at the candidate questionnaire at: http://poweroften.us/about/candidate-questionnaire/

Please send your answers to: steve@poweroften.us by Friday, March 15. There will be a meeting of all those interested ASAP after Friday.

4) Report of Rally

Over 120 Students and Parents rallied outside the district offices on Tuesday, March 5, in response to announcements at school that graduation would be changed.

Here are photos:

https://picasaweb.google.com/109077540544836974769/EastRamapoNYStudentsOccupySchoolBoardMeeting3052013

And video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLvK1oMqtfc

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!

 

 

3-02-13

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Rally on Tuesday
  2. Fundraiser March 30th
  3. State Continues Probe of East Ramapo Finances
  4. Report from the Feb 28 board meeting

1) Rally on Tuesday

There will be a rally before the school board meeting on Tuesday to protest the change in the graduation date and location. HS Seniors are calling the rally: “Come show your support and help us fix our graduation! If we don’t fight back we’ll never win! Wear your SENIOR shirts or BLACK and be ready to protest. UNDERCLASSMEN & PARENTS ARE INVITED TO JOIN IN.”

Tuesday, March 5 at 6:00 PM at ERCSD District offices, 105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley (The board meeting is scheduled for 6:30)

2) March 30th Fundraiser for Advocates for Justice:

Join the “Save Our Schools Coalition” for a fundraising event celebrating our fantastic students, and helping Advocates for Justice fight for civil rights and equality for East Ramapo. It will be a fun afternoon of auctioneering, guest speakers, food/beverages and musical entertainment. Suggested Donation is $50.00. Donations to Advocates for Justice are tax deductible.

Please RSVP: http://poweroften.us/events/4/save-our-schools-coalition-fundraiser/

3) State Continues Probe of East Ramapo Finances:

On February 14, NY State responded to Supt. Klein’s accounting of finances saying they were “technically incomplete in several areas including the budget status report, policies and procedures to oversee the budget, budget transfers,and accumulated deficits for prior years.”

News Coverage of the exchange:

Newsday: State school officials to East Ramapo: Show us your books

Journal News: East Ramapo: State seeks rare meeting over finances

4) Report from the Feb 28 board meeting:

By Carole Anderson-

Last night’s meeting was quite interesting. The board interviewed five of the candidates seeking Price’s and Young-Mercer’s seats on the board. There were three Orthodox males, one Hasidic male, and one non Jewish male. Each board member was given an opportunity to ask the candidates a question. Only Schwartz and Rothman asked questions. This was the first time that candidates were interviewed in public.

Steven Price received a letter from the Attorney General Schneiderman requesting his appearance before a committee. Price requested to be represented by an attorney paid for by the board. Schwartz tried to find ways to not pay for Price’s attorney, but the board’s attorney told Schwartz that Price did everything correctly. The next board meeting will be on March 5th where they will interview the remaining candidates.

Journal News: East Ramapo Reveals Candidates State asks East Ramapo’s Price for testimony

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!

 

2-25-13

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Save the Date: Fundraiser March 30th
  2. Local Yeshivas subject of Jewish week investigative report
  3. Letter to the Journal News: East Ramapo fails public school students
  4. Message from the editor

1) March 30th East Ramapo Fundraiser for Advocates for Justice:

Dear Community Supporter,

Are you ready to stand up against the injustices that harm our children and taxpayers each day?

Join us for a fundraising event celebrating our fantastic students, and helping Advocates for Justice fight for civil rights and equality for East Ramapo.

It will be a fun afternoon of auctioneering, guest speakers, food/beverages and musical entertainment, at the home of Rabia Nagin in Pomona.

We are looking to build momentum as the Save Our Schools Coalition to rally the parents, supporters and children that make up this wonderful community!

Sincerely, The Save Our Schools – East Ramapo Coalition

Save our Schools Fundraiser

March 30, 2013

2:00 – 5:00 PM

23 Dogwood Lane Pomona NY 10970

RSVP: http://poweroften.us/events/4/save-our-schools-coalition-fundraiser/

2) Local Yeshivas subject of Jewish Week investigative report:

The Jewish Week, an independent community newspaper, is recognized widely as the largest and most respected Jewish newspaper in America.

Reporters Julie Wiener and Hella Winston document millions of dollars of federal assistance for technology and internet services to schools, including local yeshivas, which expressly forbid students from using the internet.

Here is the three part newspaper investigative series:

Part I: Haredi Schools Reap Millions In Federal Tech Funds

Part II: How Do Haredi Schools Get All That E-rate Money?

Part III: E-rate Program Dogged By Concerns About Oversight

Reporter Julie Wiener was interviewed on WRCR about her investigative reporting. Listen to the interview.

3) In Reply: East Ramapo fails public school students

Jody Fox asks “What has the board done to enhance or at least maintain the educational process for the public school student?” in his excellent letter to the editor of the Journal News

4) Message from the editor

We are getting ready to go into another budget season.

Once again there are a series of very severe cuts being considered.

But this year is different from previous years in several ways:

  • Instead of drawing from reserves, the district will be paying off two years of deficit spending.
  • Plans are being discussed which would knowingly violate state regulations to achieve budget goals.
  • For the first time, the administration admits that spending on students who attend non-public schools is driving cuts to students who attend public schools.
  • The Board is already on notice from the Commissioner of Education regarding their actions, including the illegal, unreported deficits over the past two years, the debt to BOCES, and illegal special education placements.

Even if the board enacts all the cuts they have considered, it is doubtful they will be able to get out of the hole they have dug over the last 5 years. The impact on students could be catastrophic, decreasing already low graduation rate and handicapping college opportunities.

Will Governor Cuomo, Commissioner King, and the NY State Assembly and Senate leadership be able to sit idly by while thousands of students are deprived of their right to an education?

Their action, or inaction, regarding East Ramapo will certainly be a prominent part of their record as time goes by.

Your action is also important in this struggle. Please join us on March 30th to support Advocates for Justice, which has filed a class action civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the public school students and taxpayers.

If you are unable to make it, please consider making a donation. Go to www.poweroften.us and click “I want to support the class action lawsuit”. – Steven White, editor

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!

 

2-14-13

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Governor Cuomo comments on East Ramapo
  2. Rockland County Legislature to Honor East Ramapo Board Members
  3. Dept of Education warns district again on violations
  4. Message from the editor

1) Gov. Cuomo: NYSED will do the right thing:

Governor Cuomo was in a part of the East Ramapo School District on Tuesday, giving a speech recapping his State of the State address.

A number of East Ramapo parents, denied attendance at the event, stood outside with a banner reading “Save Our Schools”.

Reporters managed to get in a few questions, including one about East Ramapo.

His response – “They are under the state Education Department, which has great management and they’re looking at it and I’m sure they will do the right and proper thing,” puts the burden of correcting the situation squarely on the shoulders of State Education Commissioner King.

The Journal News: Cuomo overlooks East Ramapo activists

Newsday: Cuomo won’t step in to help East Ramapo

2) Rockland County Legislature to Honor East Ramapo Board Members:

Rockland County Legislator Joseph Meyers will honor two former members of the East Ramapo Central School District Board of Education, Stephen Price and Susan Young-Mercer, for their many years of service to the school district and the community in a ceremony that will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 19th in the Legislature’s chambers at 11 New Hempstead Rd., New City, NY. There will also be a musical performance by East Ramapo student musicians. Both the ceremony and the meeting are open to the public.

When: Tuesday, February 19 at 6:30 PM

Where: 11 New Hempstead Rd, New City

3) NY State gives East Ramapo yet another warning to clean up their act:

The NY State Dept of Education has found the district in violation of Federal and State law regarding special education placements multiple times over the past 3 years.

The district has not corrected the violations.

The Journal News: State firm on E. Ramapo special education violations

Newsday: State officials again blast East Ramapo special ed practices

4) Message from the editor:

According to an interview in the Journal News, a school official says the “private school community” has not “felt comfortable” with placing the students in public school. It should be noted that many district parents who use private schools are not included in the group that school officials routinely call the “private school community” and do feel perfectly comfortable with having their children attend integrated schools. A public school official, whose salary is paid completely by public school dollars, is certainly not the appropriate person to be a a spokesperson for the “private school community”. Every public servant should be aware that when some people say “uncomfortable” what they mean is they want to receive a privilege based on their race, religion or ethnicity. It is the public servant’s duty to be a spokesperson for the civil rights of all.

If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the destruction of our schools – do something! Contribute to Advocates for Justice, the public interest, non-profit law firm which has filed a class action, civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the parents, students, and taxpayers. Go to www.poweroften.us and click “I want to support the class action lawsuit”. – Steven White

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!

 

1-31-13

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Follow up the petition with a phone call
  2. School Board members resign
  3. School Board meeting Tuesday
  4. Please support the class action civil rights lawsuit
  5. Message from the editor

1) Please Call Albany:

Thank you to all 4,994 of you who signed the petition asking for a State Oversight Monitor for the East Ramapo Central School District.

A brief summary of the petition campaign is available at http://poweroften.us/petition-for-monitor/

We are asking that you follow up with two phone calls:

The numbers:

(1) The Governor’s office: (518) 474-8390 (you will get an answering machine, leave a message)
(2) The Commissioner of Education: 518-474-5844 (this phone is only open during business hours)

What to say:

“I am_____. I live in _______. Please support the appointment of an oversight monitor for the East Ramapo public schools. The public school children need your action before it is too late.”

After you call:

 

Please write a note on the Facebook event page saying you called and what response you got, if any.

2) Suzanne Young-Mercer and Steve Price Resign:

The last two public school supporters on the East Ramapo School Board have resigned from the board.

The reasons that they cite for their resignation are truly eye-opening: http://poweroften.us/news/resignation-letters/

Media coverage of the resignations:

Journal News Editorial

Journal News Story

Newsday Story

3) School Board Meeting TUESDAY NIGHT

Tuesday, February 5

7:30 PM

District Offices

105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley

4) Please support the class action lawsuit:

Advocates for Justice, a New York based, non-profit, public interest law firm, has filed a class action, civil rights lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents, students, and taxpayers.

Advocates for Justice is not charging us a fee for this action, but they are in need of funds to continue this fight. They are asking us to contribute what we can. Monthly amounts are especially helpful (and easier on tight family budgets!)

Be part of the solution, contribute online, or mail a check to:
Advocates for Justice
225 Broadway, Suite 1902
New York, NY 10007

5) Message from the editor:

Now that Stephen Price and Suzanne Young-Mercer have resigned, the remaining seven school board trustees are all members of the yeshiva community. Their lack of transparency and civility to the public is notorious. Now we know that it extended even to fellow board members. The board says they plan to appoint two people to fill the seats. Given the “harassment and intimidation” that were directed at the previous occupants, one would have to question either the independence or the judgment of anyone who would accept the appointment.

The movement for justice in East Ramapo is gaining momentum and moving forward. The school board has been chastised by the NY State Comptroller; it has been rebuked by the Commissioner of Education; it has been found in multiple, repeated violation by NYSED. The NY State Attorney General is looking at their real estate transactions and the US Dept. of Education Civil Rights division is looking at their actions toward minorities, at the request of the NAACP.

Now hundreds of parents, alumni, and taxpayers have come together in an unprecedented class action civil rights lawsuit that will hold accountable those who have violated the public trust. Our case is being heard by the NY State Education Commissioner and by the Federal District Court. The whole community worked hard to build up a great school district, and we will not let it be destroyed by a few greedy men. – Steve White, editor

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!!!

 

1-18-13

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Petition delivered to Albany with 4,994 signers!
  2. School Board meeting Tuesday
  3. Please support the class action civil rights lawsuit
  4. Jermaine Paul to sing for King Day at Spring Valley HS
  5. Message from the editor

1) Petition delivered to Albany:

On Tuesday, January 15, a group of 18 East Ramapo students, parents and activists headed to Albany to deliver the petition with 4,994 signers to the Commissioner and the Governor asking for a State Oversight Monitor to to take charge of the financial and educational administration of the East Ramapo Central School District.

A brief summary with photos is available at http://poweroften.us/petition-for-monitor/

Thank you to all who signed, commented, forwarded, shared, ‘tweeted’, and ‘liked’.

2) School Board Meeting TUESDAY NIGHT

Tuesday, January 22

7:30 PM

District Offices

105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley

Over 400 Community members, mostly parents, rallied at the last school board meeting in December to demand that essential programs including Kindergarten, Music and Art be preserved.

Kindergarten is still here, but Music, Art and more have taken big cuts!

Sometimes these meeting can be very long. It is not necessary to stay for the whole meeting. Whether you come early or late, whether you stay for an hour or until the wee hours, you will find other parents, students, and community members there ready to make good use of the time.

We are fighting to save public education, will you join us? We will NOT BE SILENT!!!

3) Please support the class action lawsuit:

Advocates for Justice, a New York based, non-profit, public interest law firm, has filed a class action, civil rights lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents, students, and taxpayers.

Advocates for Justice is not charging us a fee for this action, but they are in need of funds to continue this fight. They are asking us to contribute what we can. Monthly amounts are especially helpful (and easier on tight family budgets!)

Be part of the solution, contribute online, or mail a check to:
Advocates for Justice
225 Broadway, Suite 1902
New York, NY 10007

4) Jermaine Paul at Spring Valley High:

The Martin Luther King Multipurpose Center is hosting a Celebration of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 21st from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

There are over 50 sponsors and 150 entertainers including Jermaine Paul, the winner of NBC’s “the Voice” in 2012.

Jermaine was actually a student at the center when he was young.

The cost is free and snacks will be provided.

Where: Spring Valley HS

When: Monday, January 21st from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm

5) Message from the editor:

The Power of Ten is dedicated to providing the info you need about East Ramapo. There are always a lot of rumors and myths being spun about the district and the community it serves. The Power of Ten provides information and analysis that you can use to stay focused and positive about our kids and our schools.

Some examples of info only available on our website:

Did you know that the district, according to its own study, spends $11 million MORE on services to the non-public schools than it receives in taxes from the non-public parents?

Did you know that almost HALF (43%) of our total school budget is paid by the state and federal government, not local taxes?

Did you know that the combined income of East Ramapo residents is greater than any other district in Rockland? And the percent we spend on public education is the least?

Now the Superintendent of schools, has acknowledged in his letter to the commissioner, that it is spending on non-public schools which is driving the deficit and the cuts to public education.

What does all this tell you? The problem is not a lack of funds, it is a lack of JUSTICE. The civil rights of the students are being violated.

That’s why we have a class action civil rights lawsuit, that’s why the Attorney General is investigating, that’s why the Federal Dept of Education Civil Rights division is investigating, that’s why the State Comptroller and the State Dept of Education have cited the district many times.

Do not be discouraged. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice.”

Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!!! – Steve White, editor

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. ― César Chávez

 

1-6-13

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Over 2,700 people have signed the petition!
  2. School Board meeting Tuesday
  3. Please support the class action civil rights lawsuit
  4. Stage set for State takeover
  5. Message from the editor

1) Petition for state oversight of East Ramapo now has over 2,700 signers:

There are now over 2,700 signers to the petition at www.poweroften.us/petition which was created only 10 days ago.

Please share the petition with all your email contacts, Facebook friends and Twitter followers. There are share buttons for Facebook and Twitter right on the petition. The link to email your friends is www.poweroften.us/petition

This petition is open to anyone who agrees with the message. You do not need to be a resident of East Ramapo to sign.

There is a Facebook event page at: http://www.facebook.com/events/342604792513847/ Clicking “Going” to the event is another great way to show your support and also an easy way to spread the word.

Please confirm your signature: If you have not confirmed already, expect to get a confirmation email for your petition signature. Please add steve@poweroften.us to your “safe sender” list, (aka contact list, friend list or address book) to ensure that the confirmation goes to your inbox.

2) School Board Meeting TUESDAY NIGHT

Tuesday, January 8

7:00 PM? or 8:00 PM?

District Offices

105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley

Over 400 Community members, mostly parents, rallied at the last school board meeting in December to demand that essential programs including Kindergarten, Music and Art be preserved.

The result was that no action was taken, and the kids were back in Kindergarten this week!

Please come to the next meeting this Tuesday.

As of this moment there has been no agenda posted; we don’t know what kind of action they plan to take.

Once again, the time for the meeting is not clearly set. They “plan” to go into a private session at 7:00 PM, and “expect” to open the public session at 8:00 PM.

Whether you arrive at 7:00, or 8:00, or somewhere in between, you will find other parents, students, and community members there ready to make good use of the time.

We are fighting to save public education, will you join us? We will NOT BE SILENT!!!

3) Please support the class action lawsuit:

Advocates for Justice, a New York based, non-profit, public interest law firm, has filed a class action, civil rights lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents, students, and taxpayers.

Advocates for Justice is not charging us a fee for this action, but they are in need funds to continue this fight. They are asking us to contribute what we can. Monthly amounts are especially helpful (and easier on tight family budgets!)
Be part of the solution, contribute online, or mail a check to:
Advocates for Justice
225 Broadway, Suite 1902
New York, NY 10007

4) Stage will be set for State takeover of East Ramapo:

An article in the new Newsday Hudson Valley Edition (sorry it is only available to Newsday or Cablevision customers) is titled “East Ramapo Schools Edge Closer to State Takeover”.

Some choice excerpts from the Newsday article:

State education officials on Thursday sent a letter demanding action by the superintendent of the East Ramapo Central School District after the district blew a Jan. 2 deadline for a plan to address its budget deficit. The letter appeared to be an aggressive step toward a state takeover of the district.

“Failure to take the above actions on or before January 16 will result in a commissioner’s order to you and the board to comply,” State Education Department Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz wrote. Such an order would set the stage for an immediate state takeover of the district if the order is not obeyed.

Adding to the district’s woes, King sent a letter Wednesday — a second letter — citing “concern” over the board’s conduct when it voted to sell Colton Elementary School.

Excerpts from The Journal News reporting on the sale of Colton:

Commissioner John King says Anderson didn’t “meet her burden of proof” in arguing that the Board of Education sold the building for less than it was worth.

“We have to consider (whether) we will or will not,” sell the school, (School District Attorney) D’Agostino said. “… A lot of issues are being addressed there now.”

Among the “issues,” which D’Agostino declined to discuss, is that Bais Malka has been in arrears on rent payments for months.

5) Message from the editor:

The Power of Ten is organized to advocate for the rights of the children who attend the public schools in East Ramapo. These rights include an educational experience that prepares them for college and for the job market; an experience that is rewarding and fulfilling, an experience where they are respected and where they are expected to excel. These rights include the right to live and learn in an environment free of racism, segregation or unequal treatment. The rights of the students are inseparable from the rights of the parents to be heard and listened to.

The goal of these messages is to inform and to inspire. Please do not just read and watch. Get involved. Get all your friends, relatives and co-workers to sign the petition, donate to the non-profit law firm, or come to a meeting. Be the person who is always telling others the truth about what is happening here and what we are doing about it. Justice is coming to East Ramapo … and WE can make it happen!!! – Steve White, editor

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. ― César Chávez

 

12-30-12

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Over 2000 people have signed the petition!
  2. Please support the class action civil rights lawsuit
  3. End of year message from Power of Ten

1) Petition for state oversight of East Ramapo now over 2000 signers:

There are now over 2000 signers to the petition at www.poweroften.us/petition which was created only 10 days ago.

Please share the petition with all your email contacts, Facebook friends and Twitter followers. There are share buttons for Facebook and Twitter right on the petition. The link to email your friends is www.poweroften.us/petition

There is a Facebook event page at: http://www.facebook.com/events/342604792513847/ Clicking “Going” to the event is another great way to show your support and also an easy way to spread the word.

Please confirm your signature: If you have not confirmed already, expect to get a confirmation email for your petition signature. Please add steve@poweroften.us to your “safe sender” list, (aka contact list, friend list or address book) to ensure that the confirmation goes to your inbox.

2) Please support the class action lawsuit:

Advocates for Justice, a New York based, non-profit, public interest law firm, has filed a class action, civil rights lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents, students, and taxpayers.

Advocates for Justice is not charging us a fee for this action, but they are in need funds to continue this fight. They are asking us to contribute what we can. Monthly amounts are especially helpful (and easier on tight family budgets!)
Be part of the solution, contribute online, or mail a check to:
Advocates for Justice
225 Broadway, Suite 1902
New York, NY 10007

3) A very eventful year:

A lot has happened this year in the struggle for public education in East Ramapo. There have been a lot of hard knocks for the staff who lost their jobs, the parents who are worried about their kids education and who feel disrespected by the school board, and especially for students who have to deal with the loss of many programs, overcrowding, lack of materials, dirty classrooms, aging school buses, and even smaller meals (yes, they even cut portions in the cafeterias). Many staff members have gone above and beyond to try to keep up services, including spending money out of their own pockets. The district suffered a terrible blow to morale when they laid off Michael Smith, who had led the marching band to so many joyful awards and celebrations. This year Mr. Smith took the Nyack marching band to their first state competition, and they won first place. Videos of the East Ramapo Marching Band can be seen here: http://poweroften.us/video-gallery/marching-band/

However, there have also been several hopeful developments which lead me to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Advocates for Justice, a non-profit public interest law firm, has committed to seek relief for us in court. The class action civil rights lawsuit they have filed on behalf of 845 students, parents and taxpayers from our community is a direct confrontation of the cause of our problems: a school board which has diverted funds to promote their own religion and private religious schools; discriminated against and segregated students on the basis of race, color, national origin, ethnicity, and religion; gutted the funding of the public schools; and damaged the quality of education of our children.
  • The State Education Department has become increasingly critical of the governance of the district. They have been particularly concerned with the illegal diversion of public funds to private religious schools and the illegal deficit which has started to affect Rockland BOCES and thereby all districts in Rockland County.
  • Increasing community involvement, including over 500 parents and students who came to the last school board meeting and over 2000 who have signed the online petition so far.

You can read more about the events of 2012 in the Power of Ten archives at http://poweroften.us/updates/

 

12-23-12

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Petition for state oversight of East Ramapo is on Fire
  2. Community View: Gov. Cuomo fails to help East Ramapo
  3. State to East Ramapo: Special-ed violations continue
  4. Law stymies savings if district cuts kindergarten
  5. Please support the class action civil rights lawsuit

1) Petition for state oversight of East Ramapo is on Fire

There are now 500 signers to the petition at www.poweroften.us/petition which was created only 3 days ago. Please share the petition with all your email contacts and friends on Facebook.

There is a Facebook event page at: http://www.facebook.com/events/342604792513847/ Clicking “Going” to the event is a great way to show your support and also an easy way to spread the word.

Expect to get a confirmation email for your petition signature. Please add steve@poweroften.us to your “safe sender” list, (aka contact list, friend list or address book) to ensure that the confirmation goes to your inbox.

2) Community View: Gov. Cuomo fails to help East Ramapo

Activist Carole Anderson has been sending articles about East Ramapo to Governor Cuomo. She says it seems like East Ramapo is being allowed to go down the tubes.

Read the whole essay at: http://www.lohud.com/article/20121222/OPINION/312220066/1019

3) Newsday: State gives East Ramapo a third notice of Special-ed violations

State officials have sent the East Ramapo school district a third formal notice stating that the district’s programs for special-education students violate state and federal laws. The state appears poised to move toward taking over the district, if officials continue to flout education law. Read the full article here: http://newyork.newsday.com/rockland/state-to-east-ramapo-special-ed-violations-continue-1.4364167

4) Journal News: Law stymies savings if district cuts kindergarten

A state law entitles 5-year-olds to a public education regardless of whether a school district has a kindergarten program.

Read the full article here: http://www.lohud.com/article/20121222/NEWS03/312220067/East-Ramapo-Law-stymies-savings-district-cuts-kindergarten

5) Please support the class action lawsuit:

Advocates for Justice, a New York based, non-profit, public interest law firm, has filed a class action, civil rights lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents, students, and taxpayers.
Advocates for Justice is not charging us a fee for this action, but they are in need funds to continue this fight. They are asking us to contribute what we can. Monthly amounts are especially helpful (and easier on tight family budgets!)
Be part of the solution, contribute online, or mail a check to:
Advocates for Justice
225 Broadway, Suite 1902
New York, NY 10007

 

12-20-2012

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Community Rally preserves Kindergarten, Arts programs (for now)
  2. Your Help Needed: Petition Drive to appoint an oversight monitor
  3. Please support the class action civil rights lawsuit
  4. Media Coverage

1) Community Rally preserves Kindergarten, Arts programs (for now)

Over 400 Community members, mostly parents, rallied at the school board meeting Tuesday night to demand that essential programs including Kindergarten, Music and Art be preserved.

These programs had been proposed to be cut in the middle of the school year due to errors in budget planning by the districts administrators.

The Commissioner of Education has put East Ramapo Superintendent Klein and the school board on notice that they must put their fiscal house in order. He is requiring a full financial accounting and a plan by January 2nd.

The board not only failed to take any action, not even to adjourn the meeting. Several board members simply walked out!

The result is that Kindergarten and Art programs were not cut on Tuesday!

2) Petition Drive to Appoint an Oversight Monitor for East Ramapo

The school children of East Ramapo need the State to protect their basic rights to an education.

Problems in the governance of East Ramapo are a substantial factor in the district’s chronic under-performance and current fiscal crisis.

We are asking Governor Cuomo and Commissioner King to appoint a State Oversight monitor to take charge of the financial and educational administration of the East Ramapo Central School District.

Please sign the petition TODAY, and share it with all your email and social media contacts.

The petition is online at: http://poweroften.us/petition/

3) Please support the class action lawsuit:

Advocates for Justice, a New York based, non-profit, public interest law firm, has filed a class action, civil rights lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents, students, and taxpayers.

Advocates for Justice is not charging us a fee for this action, but they are in need funds to continue this fight. They are asking us to contribute what we can. Monthly amounts are especially helpful (and easier on tight family budgets!)

Be part of the solution, contribute online, or mail a check to:

Advocates for Justice

225 Broadway, Suite 1902

New York, NY 10007

4) Media Coverage

Highlights from the meeting are available at http://www.youtube.com/luckylouproduction

Newsday Westchester/Rockland Edition: http://newyork.newsday.com/rockland/east-ramapo-again-delays-vote-on-cuts-1.4350750

The Journal News: http://www.lohud.com/article/20121219/NEWS03/312190062/East-Ramapo-cuts-put-off-again

 

12-15-12

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Another Board Meeting Change
  2. Newsday reports on letter from NYSED to East Ramapo
  3. Please support the class action civil rights lawsuit
  4. Are Art and Music required?
  5. Message from the editor

1) Latest changes: Board meeting at RAMAPO HIGH SCHOOL TUESDAY NIGHT at 7:00 PM

The next board meeting is advertised at 7:00 PM, but the web page says they “anticipate” and “intend” to start the public session at 7:45.

We are fighting to save public education, will you join us? We will NOT BE SILENT!!!

Please make every effort to be at the board meeting on Tuesday!!!

2) Newsday: State demands answers in East Ramapo Budget Crisis

According to the new Westchester/Rockland Edition of Newsday, the State Education Department has sent a letter to East Ramapo officials.

State Education Commissioner John King Jr. told Newsday “I’m very concerned about the decisions the district is making around its finances, including the failure to pay for the BOCES services,”and “We are committed to exercising whatever authority we have to assure that students are well served.”

The state is also offering to help the district out of the mess it has created with inappropriate special education placements to non-public schools.

Read the whole article online. It is quite an eye-opener!

3) Please support the class action lawsuit:

In 2009, East Ramapo parents first got together to chant “Save Our Schools”. Since then, there have been hundreds of layoffs and program cuts, and multiple citations from the state for failing to educate and failing to protect the taxpayers’ investments. Today, we are fighting back with a class action civil rights lawsuit!

Advocates for Justice, a New York based, non-profit, public interest law firm, has filed this lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents, students, and taxpayers.

Advocates for Justice is not charging us a fee for this action, but they are in need funds to continue this fight. They are asking us to contribute what we can. Monthly amounts are especially helpful (and easier on tight family budgets!)

Be part of the solution, contribute online, or mail a check to:

Advocates for Justice

225 Broadway, Suite 1902

New York, NY 10007

4) Are Music and Art required at the Elementary level?

From the NY State Education Dept. Regulations of the Commissioner:

”all students (in grade 1-6) shall receive instruction that is designed to facilitate their attainment of the State … learning standards in … the arts, including visual arts, music, dance and theatre”

“The (grade 1-6) music requirement means all students are to receive instruction in classroom general music … students must receive classroom general music instruction.”

5) Message from the editor:

The East Ramapo School Board meetings sometimes seem like chapters from “Alice in Wonderland”, with money appearing and disappearing, insane rants from the board president, and board members darting out the back door in the middle of meetings. Now they are becoming like the Cheshire Cat, very hard to say just where or when they can be found. How is a reasonable person supposed to attend such a meeting?

The school board has proposed that they will make extensive mid-year cuts which could include cutting ALL kindergarten classes!!! They are considering eliminating ALL Elementary Art and Music teachers!!! THIS is the meeting they choose to play musical chairs with the place and the time for the public to attend??? – Steven White, editor “The Power of Ten”

“Human rights violations are not accidents; they are not random in distribution or effect. Rights violations are, rather, symptoms of deeper pathologies of power and are linked intimately to the social conditions that so often determine who will suffer abuse and who will be shielded from harm.” – Dr. Paul Farmer

 

12-13-12

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Urgent: Kindergarten on Chopping Block
  2. Call in Radio Show Friday AM
  3. Please support the class action civil rights lawsuit

 

1) Urgent: Kindergarten may be cut; please come to RAMAPO HIGH SCHOOL TUESDAY NIGHT

The school board has proposed that they will make extensive mid-year cuts which could include cutting ALL kindergarten classes!!!

Please note they have changed the location to Ramapo HS. Please watch for the next update in case they change it again.

School Board Meeting:

Tuesday, Dec 18, 7:30 PM

Ramapo High School

400 Viola Rd, Spring Valley

We are fighting to save public education, will you join us? We will NOT BE SILENT!!!

2) Message from East Ramapo Underground Radio:

The next East Ramapo Underground Radio Show on WRCR-1300AM is tomorrow Friday, December 14th right after the 10 o’clock news.

The call in number is 845-362-0013; call in with your comments, don’t be shy!

Listen in to find out this and who the Heros & Zeros are for the Month.

We will discuss recent Newsday & Journal News articles.

The next school board meeting is Tuesday, December 18, 2012, Ramapo High School at 7:30 p.m. What cuts will the Board do?

Thanks

Antonio Luciano & Peggy Hatton

3) Please support the class action lawsuit:

In 2009, East Ramapo parents first got together to chant “Save Our Schools”. Since then, there have been hundreds of layoffs and program cuts, and multiple citations from the state for failing to educate and failing to protect the taxpayers’ investments. Today, we are fighting back with a class action civil rights lawsuit!

Advocates for Justice, a New York based, non-profit, public interest law firm, has filed this lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents, students, and taxpayers.

Advocates for Justice is not charging us a fee for this action, but they are in need funds to continue this fight. They are asking us to contribute what we can. Monthly amounts are especially helpful (and easier on tight family budgets!)

Be part of the solution, contribute online, or mail a check to:

Advocates for Justice

225 Broadway, Suite 1902

New York, NY 10007

12-9-12

Power of Ten Update

  1. Video of Feb 4 Board Meeting
  2. Advocates for Justice Fall Awards Ceremony

1) Video of Feb 4 Board meeting

East Ramapo students talk to the board about the effect mid-year cuts would have on education: http://youtu.be/fvZO0eJRzSc

East Ramapo Board member Steven Price talks about the real reasons for the deficit: http://youtu.be/U_sDbtfFJ5U

Superintendent Klein once again presents the board with a Treasurer’s Report that he knows is wrong! Will this report be approved this month? http://youtu.be/waYlryhzyco
Moses Friedman suddenly walks out of the meeting, shutting down the board due to the lack of a quorum: http://youtu.be/nrTZ3XRZiu4

2) Advocates for Justice Fall Awards Ceremony Features East Ramapo Alumni, Honors Alumni Activist Group:

Monday, December 10, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Symphony Space, 95th Street & Broadway, New York, NY (only 30 – 40 minutes from Rockland)

Parent Discount Tickets are still available!!! (only $25)

SPECIAL PERFORMANCES:

Actor Geoffrey Owens (“Elvin,” The Cosby Show) performing “Shakespeare on Justice”

The Herve Alexandre Jazz Quartet (Ramapo HS Alumnus)

HONOREES:

A Lifetime of Leadership

Hon. Nydia Velazquez, Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Jon Kest, Executive Director, NY Communities for Change

Mike Kenny, 9/11 First Responder

Extraordinary Advocates for Our Children

Mona Davids, Founder/President, NYC Parents Union

Leonie Haimson, Founder/Executive Director, Class Size Matters

The PTO of Peninsula Preparatory Academy (Far Rockaway, Queens)

Save Our Schools – East Ramapo (Rockland County)

Southside Community Schools Coalition (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

 

11-19-12

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Advocates for Justice Fall Awards Ceremony
  2. Urgent: Your contribution is needed!
  3. How to stay informed
  4. Message from the editor

1) Advocates for Justice Fall Awards Ceremony Features East Ramapo Alumni, Honors Alumni Activist Group:

Monday, December 10, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Symphony Space, 95th Street & Broadway, New York, NY

Parent Discount Tickets are available!!!

Advocates for Justice Board members Arthur Z. Schwartz (President), Hon. Major R. Owens, John Samuelsen, Mark Rosenthal, Hon. Peggy Shepard, Bertha Lewis, Matthew Chachere, Marvin Wasserman, Mike Kenny, Suzanne Mattei, Tom Shanahan and Cate Edwards invite you to a very special evening celebrating courageous community leaders and saluting public education.

SPECIAL PERFORMANCES:

Actor Geoffrey Owens (“Elvin,” The Cosby Show) performing “Shakespeare on Justice”

The Herve Alexandre Jazz Quartet (Ramapo HS Alumnus)

HONOREES:

A Lifetime of Leadership

Hon. Nydia Velazquez, Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Jon Kest, Executive Director, NY Communities for Change

Mike Kenny, 9/11 First Responder

Extraordinary Advocates for Our Children

Mona Davids, Founder/President, NYC Parents Union

Leonie Haimson, Founder/Executive Director, Class Size Matters

The PTO of Peninsula Preparatory Academy (Far Rockaway, Queens)

Save Our Schools – East Ramapo (Rockland County)

Southside Community Schools Coalition (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

2) Please support the class action lawsuit:

Advocates for Justice, a New York based, non-profit, public interest law firm, has filed a class action civil rights lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents, students, and taxpayers. Advocates for Justice is not charging us a fee for this action, but they are in need funds to continue this fight. They are asking us to contribute what we can. Monthly amounts are especially helpful (and easier on tight family budgets!) Be part of the solution, contribute online, or mail a check to:

Advocates for Justice

225 Broadway, Suite 1902

New York, NY 10007

3) How to stay informed:

The Journal News: www.lohud.com/eastramapo

Newsday: http://schools.newsday.com/new-york/districts/east-ramapo/

East Ramapo Underground: http://www.facebook.com/EastRamapoUnderground

Power of Ten www.poweroften.us

4) Message from the Editor:

We are now faced with a crumbling public school system, the board members of which seem intent on its complete decimation. We have no choice but to challenge the wrongs being inflicted on the public school children in East Ramapo. We are certain the board members would prefer we and our families go quietly into the night, as they close more and more public schools, so that we have no choice but to pack up and leave our homes. We refuse. We will fight for the schoolchildren of East Ramapo and their right to a sound basic public school education. The wrongful actions of the board members are violations of the law; they are violations of the Constitution and the civil rights it guarantees us. We have tried talking. They refused to listen. Litigation is the only avenue the board members have left us.

Tell your friends: “Justice is coming to East Ramapo!” … and WE can make it happen!

– Steve White, editor

 

8-27-12

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Student Demonstration Highlights Legal Action!
  2. School Board President Runs Afoul of Public Meeting Laws!
  3. What YOU can do to be part of the action!
  4. Message from the editor

1) Student Demonstration Highlights Legal Action:

A new organization: The Save Our Schools Coalition – East Ramapo is led by alumnus Carlos Ortiz. The coalition held a press conference and demonstration on August 23rd at the district central offices.

You can see graduates and current students talk about the East Ramapo Central School District and the actions of the school board here: http://youtu.be/lOsCjzddgFk .

The rally was covered by:

The Journal News: http://www.lohud.com/article/20120824/NEWS03/308220098/East-Ramapo-alumni-berate-school-board?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Newsday: http://newyork.newsday.com/rockland/east-ramapo-students-alumni-rally-against-school-board-1.3923422

WBAI 99.5 FM: http://wbai.org/articles.php?headline=Parents%20Sue%20the%20East%20Ramapo%20School%20District

2) School Board President Runs Afoul of Public Meeting Laws

Back in 2009, the school board attempted to shut down videotaping of its meetings . However, these meetings are covered by NY State Open Meetings Law , which protects the public’s right to know what entities such as the school board are doing.

Once again, it was Emilia White who was threatened with arrest for video taping at a School Board Meeting.

Once again, Ms. White stood up to the bullying tactics of the school board president.

Videotaping meetings has proven to be one of the most important methods of protecting the public interest from arbitrary and harmful actions by the board. Many thousands of people have been able to view the board at work through the diligent work of Antonio Luciano on his YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/luckylouproduction

3) “Advocates for Justice” Needs YOU:

Advocates for Justice, a New York based public interest law firm, has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents and students seeking monetary damages from some school board members, district officials and contractors.

We have lost full day kindergarten, guidance counselors, social workers, our award winning band director and hundreds of teachers. Our classrooms are overcrowded and our children are suffering!

IT IS TIME FOR ACTION! Find out if YOU can join in this action and be part of the solution! Go to http://www.saveeastramaposchools.com/ to join the class action lawsuit or make a donation.

4) Message from the editor:

The movement for justice in East Ramapo is gaining momentum and moving forward. The school board has been chastised by the NY State Comptroller, it has been rebuked by the Commissioner of Education, it has been found in multiple, repeated violation by NYSED. The NY State Attorney General is looking at their real estate transactions and the US Dept. of Education Civil Rights division is looking at the actions toward minorities, at the request of the NAACP. In each case, the board and the administration have chosen to find fault with the agency reviewing their actions rather than admit and correct. They are even suing the NY State Attorney General to prevent release of 1300 documents!!!

Many, perhaps all of these actions are the result of citizen activism which now offers the hope of actually removing those who abuse their office, getting an independent monitor, and forcing the abusers to pay back the district for all the harm they have done.

At every step of the way we have encountered resistance in the form of a divide and conquer strategy:

  • In 2009, the board tried to pit one elementary school against the other in a fake search for a school to close. We did not take the bait, and we stood together with signs proclaiming the sanctity of ALL our schools.
  • They tried to pit Kindergarten parents against other elementary parents, by offering Full day K to “some” in exchange for closing a school. Our solidarity never budged. (today we have neither the Full day K nor the school, which was apparently the plan all along).
  • The board has constantly tried to pit parents against teachers by blaming the budget problems caused by the board’s misconduct on the teacher’s union. WE NEVER BUDGED! Parents and students rallied behind our teachers, and other staff, by the hundreds!
  • Today, the board and the administration are trying to sow division again by spreading rumors that teachers will be laid off due to parent activists. These rumors are just another attempt to divide those who cherish education and all it produces so that the board can maintain its wasteful, hurtful ways. The truth is that the lawsuit filed on behalf of parents and the district seeks to PROHIBIT the expenditure of district funds to defend against the lawsuit or the appeal filed by parents.

It is up to each and every one of us to spread the word of the mission and the success of this movement, and to exhibit solidarity with the other stakeholders in the district. Our current predicament is not the fault of the teachers, or the comptroller, or the media, or the parents. The responsibility for the fiduciary disaster and the public perception that the district is not acting in the best interest of the students rests squarely on the shoulders of those named in the class action suit. Tell your friends: “Justice is coming to East Ramapo!” – Steve White, editor

8-19-12

Power of Ten Update

Your personal invitation:

I would like to begin this issue of the Power of Ten update with a special message for each of you. We have arrived at a point where our cause is being heard loud and clear in the halls of power.

Now there are a number of ways in which YOU can be involved. For those who have not yet really been active, if you have been waiting for a personal invitation, please consider this message your personal invitation to be part of the action.

No one can do it all by themselves, but if we each take a part, we can make a difference in the lives of the children of East Ramapo.

Here are the current actions that need your participation:

1) Class Action Lawsuit: Advocates for Justice, a New York based public interest law firm, has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo School District parents and students seeking monetary damages from some school board members, district officials and contractors. You can read all the details online at http://poweroften.us/legal-actions/class-action-lawsuit/

Your personal invitations:

  1. Help spread the word: print the class action flyer and pass it out to all your friends and contacts and wherever you go in East Ramapo.
  2. If you are a leader in an organization such as a church or a community group, make sure to inform the members of your organization about this issue.
  3. Sign the retainer yourself. Request it by email storre@advocatesny.com or by phone 845-554-5892
2) Participate in Events:
Your personal invitations:
  1. Come to the school board meeting on Tuesday August 21 at 7:30 PM (105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley)
  2. Come out on Thursday August 23 at 6 PM to support the students and recent alumni as they hold a press conference (outside of 105 S. Madison)
  3. Sign up for the event on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/events/277380969037251/

3) Help others stay informed:

Your personal invitations:

  1. Get others to sign up for the Power of Ten update. It’s easy to sign up right on the homepage: www.poweroften.us
  2. Join the Save Our Schools – East Ramapo Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/125700744243033/
  3. Do you have a personal story about what has been lost in East Ramapo? We are compiling a list- add your story at: http://poweroften.us/what-have-we-lost/
4) In the media:
Your personal invitation:
  1. There have been numerous articles about our issue in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, The Journal News, Preserve Ramapo, The Jewish Daily Forward, News 12, Channel 7 Eyewitness News, NBC News 4, WPIX, WCBS, and more. There is also the East Ramapo Underground call-in radio show on WRCR 1300AM every 2nd Friday of the month at 10:00 AM. There is also a YouTube channel devoted to bringing you information about East Ramapo. Share these with your friends, and take the time to call in to the radio and write letters to the editor of the Journal News at ncutler@lohud.com
To all of those who are working to ensure every child’s right to a great education- a very personal thank you!Steve White

8-17-12

Power of Ten Update

Special Edition:

The New York-based public interest law firm Advocates for Justice, on behalf of 167 East Ramapo parents and community members, has filed a class action lawsuitseeking monetary damages from school board members and some district officials and contractors, and is calling for the removal of five school board members and the appointment of a NY State overseer to remedy rampant abuses of office, including:

  • A pattern of fraud in the sale of school property
  • Willful noncompliance with special education rules
  • Unlawfully using state money to purchase religious textbooks
  • Dangerously compromising the security of students
  • Failure to provide oversight and guidelines for purchases
  • Deliberate school segregation
  • Unconstitutional gifts of public funds to private schools

These abuses have deprived children of their right to sound basic education in violation of the New York State Constitution. They have denied federally guaranteed equal protection to all students. They have breached their fiduciary duty causing a loss of funds, leading to the loss of programs vital to educational success and damaging the quality of education of the children in the district.

“Advocates for Justice” needs YOU:

If your child currently attends school in East Ramapo or you are a recent graduate within the last 5 years, YOU can join in this action and be a part of the solution!

Call 212-285-1400 or send an email to storre@advocatesny.com today!

Say “I want to join the East Ramapo Class Action Suit”!

In the News:

Reported in Newsday: Lawyer seeks worshipers’ help in East Ramapo schools case

Reported on Lohud: Parents to sue East Ramapo school board over public funds

Reported in Bloomberg Businessweek: East Ramapo School Board Sued for Money Given Yeshivas

Reported in the Rockland County Times: East Ramapo Parents Sue School District

 

7-31-12

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Governor Cuomo Vetoes S7722!
  2. East Ramapo Parents: 5 on School Board Must Go!
  3. What YOU can do to be part of the action!
1) Governor Cuomo Vetoes S7722:

Governor Cuomo has vetoed S7722, the “special education placement bill”. He says: “This bill unfairly places the burden on taxpayers to support the provision of a private education”.

The East Ramapo School Board has been doing just that with its unapproved placements which continue to be a violation of State Regulations.

Power of Ten submitted a petition with 1715 signatures asking Governor Cuomo to veto this bill. We congratulate him for doing the right thing and for noting that part of the reason for his decision was communication he received from “hundreds” of individuals. East Ramapo was the only local school board not to write the governor requesting a veto. You can call Governor Cuomo at 518-474-8390, and thank him for vetoing S7722.

2) “Advocates for Justice” needs YOU:

The New York-based public interest law firmAdvocates for Justice, on behalf of 14 East Ramapo parents and community members, said it is calling for the removal of five board members and the appointment of a an overseer to remedy rampant abuses of office within the ERCSD School Board, and prevent future abuses. This major development has been covered in The New York Times and The Journal News, and featured with Art McFarland on Channel 7 Eyewitness News.

3) YOU can join in this action and be part of the solution:

To sign on, contact Stephanie Torre at storre@advocatesny.com , or (212)285-1400 or through the web form. Please contact them by the end of business on Friday to be sure to be included in any action.

7-29-12

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. East Ramapo Parents: 5 on School Board Must Go!
  2. Petition Deadline is Midnight Monday!
  3. What YOU can do to be part of the action!

1) “Advocates for Justice” file appeal to remove 5 board members

The New York-based public interest law firmAdvocates for Justice, on behalf of 14 East Ramapo parents and community members, said it is calling for the removal of five board members and the appointment of a an overseer to remedy rampant abuses of office within the ERCSD School Board, and prevent future abuses. The release of the52-page documentthat accuses the East Ramapo school board of:

  • A pattern of fraud in the sale of school property
  • Willful noncompliance with Special Education Rules causing loss of funds
  • Unlawfully using state money to purchase religious textbooks
  • Dangerously compromising the security of students
  • Failure to provide oversight and guidelines for purchases … a breach of fiduciary duty
This major development has been covered in The New York Times and The Journal News, and featured with Art McFarland on Channel 7 Eyewitness News
YOU can join in this action and be part of the solution! To sign on, contact Stephanie Torre at storre@advocatesny.com , or (212)285-1400
2) Petition deadline is rapidly approaching:

Governor Cuomo has until August 1 to veto the “special education placement bill”. Only Governor Cuomo can stop this bill from becoming law!!!

The petition started by Power of Ten will be sent on the morning of July 31. Please sign, and urge all your friends and neighbors to sign.

The deadline to sign is midnight of Monday, July 30.

3) What you can do to be part of the action:

You can see all the news and info at www.poweroften.us

7-20-12

Power of Ten Update

Urgent: Action Needed Now!

In a previous update, it was reported that NYSED found the East Ramapo district to be in violation of regulations pertaining to placement of special education students.
A new law has been proposed which would allow the district to make these placements at taxpayer expense. The impact of this new unfunded mandate would devastate East Ramapo!!!
Only governor Cuomo can stop this bill from becoming law!!!
Power of Ten has created an online petition to the Governor

Sign the Petition Today

 

http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-andrew-m-cuomo-veto-s7722-the-special-education-placement-bill?share_id=TePXefzKwg

6-25-12

Power of Ten Update

In this edition:

  1. Budget passes by 3-1 margin
  2. Superintendent Klein lays off legendary marching band director, Nyack snaps him up
  3. NY State looks to roll back the clock on school desegregation 
  4. Spring Valley Senior Class President produces documentary video
  5. message from the editor
1) Budget passes by 3-1 margin
The  budget vote count on June 19 was 3562 YES and 1217 NO.  The budget which was passed included massive layoffs and cuts to programs.  A summary of layoffs can be found at: http://poweroften.us/highlights/2012-layoffs/ (note: because this is a pdf file, it may not be viewable from some smartphones)
2) Superintendent Klein lays off Legendary Band Director Michael Smith
For 27 years, Mr. Smith has led the World Famous East Ramapo Marching Band to Championships, Film and Television appearances, and over 600 local events.
What kind of school leadership would let go an individual responsible for so much success?
By letting Mr. Smith go, the Superintendent has betrayed the stated vision, values and mission of the district.   The board and the Superintendent have once again turned a deaf ear to the students and parents, who have come to many board meetings to emphasize that the Marching Band and Mr. Smith are achieving excellence.
The Nyack school District has benefited from our loss; they hired Mr. Smith immediately upon hearing he had been let go from East Ramapo.  They are looking forward to him bringing the magic to Nyack students that he has brought to East Ramapo for 27 years.
3) New law would legalize “family background” as criteria for placement
In a previous update, it was reported that NYSED found the East Ramapo district to be in violation of regulations pertaining to placement of special education students.  These violations occur when the district makes placements based on race, religion, or ethnicity rather than educational assessment.
A new law has been proposed which would allow the district to make these placements at taxpayer expense.  Only governor Cuomo can stop this bill from becoming law.  The following letter has been created as a template for you to write and express your view regarding this bill:

Dear Governor Cuomo,

The recently passed bill (NY State Assembly A10722 and Senate S7722) “Relates to determinations of appropriate educational programs for certain students” is a very dangerous bill. This bill is discriminatory in nature and was devised to circumvent Brown vs. the Board of Education!

This legislation would allow factors such as race, religion, or ethnicity to be taken into account for placement of special education students. This bill would make a mockery of Brown versus the Board of Education and encourage parents who desire segregated education at public expense to reframe a racist agenda as a multicultural one.  Allowing a consideration of “differences between the school environment and the child’s home environment and family background” in special education placement is clearly code for an agenda to school segregation supported by our tax dollars.

Please do not allow this bill to become law. It would be setback to decades of anti-discrimination and desegregation efforts, with NY State leading the way.

Thanks, (your name)

Please send your letter using the Governor’s contact form at: http://www.governor.ny.gov/ContacttheGovernor

4) Student Documentary Video by Hernz Laguerre

Spring Valley Student Body President Hernz Laguerre has created a video documenting the importance of extra-curricular activities in education.  Don’t miss this important video!

5) Message from the editor

Please take some time to look over the content on the power of ten website.  The story of our struggle is told there in documents such as the Comptroller’s report, the NYSED violation notice, and the Commissioner’s Hillcrest sale decision. It is documented in the videos of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and community members pleading with the board not to destroy our educational system.

This is a system which has been built up with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and countless hours of labor.  This is a system which has produced thousands of proud graduates who are contributing to society today.  This is a system which was once considered one of the top systems in the state.  According to Former Assistant Superintendent Joe Farmer, what is happening now is the systematic dismantling of this system, which amounts to a power grab that will destroy the potential of this community. In his words, “This is War!”

For years, those who have been at the helm have cited financial reasons for their actions.  But how does this explain that they created a paid position (treasurer) for a close friend, Israel Bier? This job had previously been performed by a district employee at no extra cost.  How does this explain that they replaced our long time attorney for one that cost about four times as much per hour? Or trying to sell two schools for a fraction of the appraised value? How about losing track of millions of dollars worth of textbooks loaned to their friends who run non-public schools, or violating regulations of the state to place students in non-public schools at public expense?  Is any of this sound financial policy for the district?

And then they fired Pedro Santana, the most effective and beloved administrator the district has ever seen.  And now they have let the LEGENDARY band leader Michael E. Smith go.

These were the two most prominent district wide employees who were inspiring pride and hope in the staff and the students.  

There is a documented statement by a lawyer for a non-public school that asserts a direct connection between failing public schools and opportunities for non-public schools: In a letter to the town of Ramapo in 2008, Mark Kurzman, a Pearl River attorney representing Bobover, said “there has been a serious, growing areawide need for yeshiva classroom space on all grade levels.”  He said yeshiva builders were competing with residential builders for land, adding that “the pressure is intensified by the fact that it has been well over 10 years since the (East Ramapo) school district has sold any of its sites as surplus.”

Were the board members whose close family and professional ties to the non-public school users sincerely trying to protect the public interest, or was this a ‘power grab’ to ‘dismantle’ public education in response to ‘intense pressure’ ?  The record shows that they have been cited time and again for failure to protect the taxpayer’s interest. The record shows that they have taken actions which hurt the reputation and morale of the district even when there is no financial reason for doing so.  This message is to the school board and the Superintendent: you are what your record says that you are.

6-18-12

Power of Ten Update

In this edition:

  1. Marching Band Director leads list of massive layoffs!
  2. How much did district pay for sending kids to private school?
  3. Budget vote on June 19
  4. Town Hall Meeting at CEJJES Institute
  5. Message from the editor

1. East Ramapo Announces Massive Layoffs

The board has voted on a program of layoffs which are absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible. Leading the list as the most ridiculous personnel move the board has made since it fired Pedro Santana, They have now voted to layoff Michael E. Smith. For 27 years, Mr. Smith has led the World Famous East Ramapo Marching Band to Championships, Film and Television appearances, and over 600 local events. What kind of school leadership would let go an individual responsible for so much success?

Also receiving layoff notices were BOTH Ms. Esquivel and Mr. Forman of Ramapo High School, and Ms. Greene and Mr. Winfield of Spring Valley HS.

There were dozens of other layoff notices, ALL of which will affect the educational program.

The complete list is available at: http://poweroften.us/new/2012-layoffs/

These layoffs are the direct result of choices made by the school board, NOT external financial factors or union contracts.

2. Impact of Non-compliance from NY State Education Dept.

In the last update, we learned that East Ramapo has been forced to post a notice to the community regarding the result of a finding of continuing non-compliance with regulations pertaining to placement of special education students.

We are now stuck footing the bill for these unapproved placements.

It was the school board’s choice to over-rule their own special education committee and NY state regulations. NY State will NOT reimburse these unapproved placements. According to the notice, there were between 86 and 90 such placements over the past two years. Placement in some cases can cost over $90,000 per student!

3. Budget vote on June 19

If you feel that the crass manipulations of the board are making you feel like your vote doesn’t count, take a few minutes when you get home from the poll and WRITE your representative about how you feel AT THAT MOMENT:

NYSED fraud, waste, and abuse line: http://www.oms.nysed.gov/oas/fraud/

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Ellen-Jaffee/

Senator David Carlucci: http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/david-carlucci/contact

Governor Andrew Cuomo: http://www.governor.ny.gov/contact/GovernorContactForm.php

NY State board of Regents: RegentsOffice@mail.nysed.gov

Rockland Journal News: ncutler@lohud.com

Rockland County Times: editor@rocklandtimes.com

4. Town Hall Meeting at CEJJES Institute

Saturday, June 30, 2012 6:00 PM

The CEJJES Institute

5 Cooper Morris Drive Pomona, NY

Donation requested Adults $5 Students Free

What is the future of Education in East Ramapo? What does it mean for our children? What does this mean for the community of color? How do we move forward? If you are an administrator, teacher; educator or just a concerned member of the community we want to hear your voice. Please come out and take part in this very important conversation.

rsvp required to: CEJJESinst@gmail.com or 845 362 8610 by June 25th, 2012

6. Message from the editor

The layoffs that were announced this week are unconscionable. Our district has growing enrollment, stagnant teacher salaries, and more students with special needs than other districts in Rockland. Our district receives almost half of its resources from federal and state funding, but more than half of that goes to pay for services to non-public schools. The school board, dominated by members with family and community ties to those schools, chose to send local tax dollars to non-public schools, rather than use them to retain needed staff in the public schools. This is not a pro-taxpayer board. This is an anti-education board. They are being or have recently been investigated by the NY State Attorney General, the NY State Comptroller, The US Department of Education Civil Rights Division, and the NY State Education Department. The investigations come about because of complaints from people like YOU. Please write to your representatives and the other contacts listed above. With pressure, we will achieve a better education for our students and a better balance in our community. – Steven White, editor

 

6-12-12

In this edition:
  1. Attorney general probing East Ramapo real estate dealings
  2. Notice of Non-compliance from NY State Education Dept.
  3. East Ramapo Underground Radio is back!
  4. Town Hall Meeting at CEJJES Institute
  5. Budget vote on June 19
  6. Message from the editor
1. Attorney general probing East Ramapo real estate dealings
The Journal News has reported that the NY State Attorney General has subpoenaed records related to the attempted sale and current leases of two school buildings.
It should be noted that public school students and staff were evicted from these buildings by the school board under the pretext that enrollment was down. Actual enrollment this year is up by over 1000 students from projections made by the board. Overcrowding is now a serious concern, with one high school at 159% of recommended capacity.
We knew that closing schools was bad educational policy for our students. We knew that selling schools in a hurry did not adhere to the fiduciary duty to the taxpayer. We should not be surprised if it turns out that NY State law was violated too.
2. Notice of Non-compliance from NY State Education Dept.
East Ramapo has been forced to post a notice to the community regarding the result of a finding of continuing non-compliance.
In April 2010 NYSED found the district to be in violation of regulations pertaining to placement of special education students. These regulations are designed to promote placement in the environment which is most beneficial to educational outcomes for these students. It appears that the district may have been more concerned about parents desire for a segregated environment than about what was best for the students education. As it turns out, this was also bad for the taxpayer as the property owner has now been stuck footing the bill for these unapproved placements. The cost to East Ramapo property taxpayer for educating these special education students is in the millions of dollars. These students could have been receiving a superior education at state expense, and the money currently being sent to private religious special education schools could have been spent on improving the outcomes for our sistrict, which now has several schools deemed ‘in need of improvement’ by NY State.
3. East Ramapo Underground Radio is back!
The East Ramapo Underground radio show is back! The 2nd Friday of the month @ 10 o’clock on WRCR-1300AM tune in to find out what is happening in the East Ramapo School District. Each monthly show will be for an hour!
Find out what the school district doesn’t want you to know. The show is broadcast live over the internet at www.wrcr.com or if you can’t listen live, the show will be on our Facebook page. The studio number to call in is 845-362-0013.
Your co-hosts
Peggy Hatton & Antonio Luciano
4. Town Hall Meeting at CEJJES Institute
Saturday, June 30, 2012 6:00 PM
The CEJJES Institute
5 Cooper Morris Drive Pomona, NY

Donation requested Adults $5 Students Free

What is the future of Education in East Ramapo? What does it mean for our children? What does this mean for the community of color? How do we move forward? If you are an administrator, teacher; educator or just a concerned member of the community we want to hear your voice. Please come out and take part in this very important conversation.
rsvp required to: CEJJESinst@gmail.com or 845 362 8610 by June 25th, 2012
5. Budget vote on June 19
According to the superintendent, the May 15 budget was voted down as a crass manipulation to prevent public school parents Kim Foskew, Hiram Rivera, and JoAnne Thompson from being elected to the school board.
The same budget will be put up for a revote on June 19. Please do not allow the cynicism and pettiness of the board or the administration to deter you from exercising your right to vote. In the last message, I provided information of where to write to if you are sick and tired of the unethical behavior of the board and the administration. Don’t respond to this challenge by doing less. If you feel that the crass manipulations of the board are making you feel like your vote doesn’t count, take a few minutes when you get home from the poll and WRITE your representative about how you feel AT THAT MOMENT.
6. Message from the editor

Several years ago, the makeup of the East Ramapo School board changed. The majority of the members of the school board became people with strong family and community ties to private schools, specifically private religious schools for the ultra-orthodox Jewish community. Many people were concerned that this school board would use its authority to shift the priorities of the district more toward those schools and the segregated community that they serve. Others felt that the new board could faithfully serve both communities. Any citizen of the district has the right to run for school board, by law. Over the years there have been many confrontations over issues such as budget items and school closings. The non-public school members of the public school board have maintained that their main goal is fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers which necessitates controlling spending.

 

However, several of their actions have been contrary to that cause:

  • They created a paid position (treasurer) for a close friend, Israel Bier. This job had previously been performed by a district employee at no extra cost.
  • They replaced an attorney for one that cost about 4 times as much per hour.
  • They sold a school (Hillcrest) for a fraction of the appraised value (fortunately the State Education Department halted the sale). Another school sale (Colton) is being held up by the state for similar reasons after a taxpayer complained that they were selling public property without doing their fiduciary duty to get the best return for the taxpayer.
  • They fired Pedro Santana, the most effective and beloved administrator the district has ever seen (according to staff, students and parents).
  • While many of our buildings are in need of millions of dollars of repairs, the two schools that the board voted to sell to non-public schools were the only ones that the state says need no money for repairs over the next 5 years.
  • One of the most powerful of the non-public school board members, Nathan Rothschild, who was president of the board, has been sentenced to federal prison for fraud involving a real estate transaction for another public agency (he was a fire commissioner).
  • The district has been cited by the NY State Comptroller for lack of oversight of millions of dollars of public materials loaned to private schools.
  • The district has been cited by the NY State Education Department Special Education Quality Assurance division for improper placement of students in private schools when a public school would provide superior educational opportunity.

All of this evidence points to the conclusion that what seemed to be a conflict of interest, is indeed a conflict of interest.

 

The people most directly affected (students and parents) have tried every avenue available to them to protect the quality of education in the district. They have written to every elected and appointed official. They have filed formal appeals with the state. They have raised funds and run coordinated elections bringing out triple the voter turnout of any nearby district. While there have been some achievements, the underlying problem- conflict of interest- has not been resolved.

 

In a recent board meeting, one of the board members made quite a long speech essentially alleging that all of the complaints from the parents and students are not based on any of the actions that he and his colleagues have taken, but rather were based only on prejudice on the part of the public. This is an obvious attempt to change the discourse away from the facts, which have been presented to the board in precise detail by students, staff, and parents over the years, all of which is well documented in video form on youtube at www.youtube.com/luckylouproduction

6-4-12

Power of Ten Update

Calling all letter writers!

There were FOUR excellent letters published in the Journal News this week:

Questions about East Ramapo vote

Demand better in East Ramapo

Blame East Ramapo school board’s indifference, not teachers, for woes

Disenfranchised in East Ramapo

These have provoked a call to action from a well-known advocate for quality education:
Hi All,
Perhaps it is time that Albany listen to the folks here in East Ramapo. Drastic times calls for drastic measures. Below you will find 4 opinion pieces by community members who are displeased with the happenings here in East Ramapo.
Please take a few minutes to read these letters and pass them on to others who care about East Ramapo public education.
Please join me and send your own letters to Albany demanding better for our kids. – Peggy Hatton
The following is a list of links to help you get started on your letter writing campaign. The best advice for letter writing is to write about your own personal experience- what you know and what you feel. It is more important to say what it is you really want to say than to have perfect grammar. Remember, the elected representatives work FOR YOU, and a letter to the paper is a letter to your friends and neighbors.
NYSED fraud, waste, and abuse line: http://www.oms.nysed.gov/oas/fraud/
NY State board of Regents: RegentsOffice@mail.nysed.gov
Rockland Journal News: ncutler@lohud.com
Rockland County Times: editor@rocklandtimes.com

5-26-12

Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Call for info on voting problems
  2. CBS Channel 2 News Coverage
  3. PIX Channel 11 News coverage
  4. Radio call in opportunity Tuesday
1. Call for info on voting problems at the May 15 election
If you or someone you know experienced problems voting in last week’s Board of Education Election, please contact Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo at concernedcitizensofeastramapo@gmail.com. Please be as specific as possible, providing the voters full name, phone number, email address and a brief description of the experience. We have been told that large numbers of voters were sent from one poll location to another, other voters who registered were turned away because their names were not in the County books, someone had already signed the book, etc. We are preparing a report of these voter irregularities to prevent these issues from happing again in the future. Time is of the essence, so please reply as soon as is possible.
2. CBS Channel 2 News coverage
SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A school budget crisis in one Rockland County community has officials considering the unbelievable.
The money is so tight, the East Ramapo School District could be the first in New York State to get rid of kindergarten, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.
The little ones Young saw on Monday at the Early Education Center at Kakiat Elementary School had no idea they could be the last students to attend kindergarten in East Ramapo for some time. They were oblivious to everything, except the adventure of learning.
3. PIX Channel 11 News Coverage
SPRING VALLEY (WPIX) —

Eliminating Kindergarten? It would seem unthinkable, or at least illegal. But that’s what could happen while a budget showdown at the East Ramapo School District plays out.

At the heart of the issue is the large orthodox Jewish population that mostly chooses to send their children to private yeshivas, or religious schools … “People think, at least in the Orthodox community, that too much money is being spent, and they want to cut back.”
4. Radio call in opportunity Tuesday
From Sharlene McCallum: This past week on WVOX the radio program ‘Let’s Talk About It’ was about education and more specifically on the East Ramapo School District issues.
We talked about the budget, the cuts, candidates, kindergarten and other topics.
Dr. Reginald Hudson is the host of that show and would like to have next Tuesday’s time slot dedicated to East Ramapo again.
Please get the word out to everyone to tune in, call in and STREAM in to the broadcast. PLEASE tune in and call in next Tuesday.

Listen at: http://wvox.com or 1460AM (note…it is a Westchester station).

The call in number is 914-636-0110.

Tuesday May 29th at 5pm!!!

5-18-12

Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Thank you to all who helped
  2. News Coverage of the election
  3. Forum on Testing Tuesday
  4. 2012 Election Analysis
1. Thank you to all who helped
Thank you to everyone who made a call, everyone who knocked on a door, everyone who donated, who came to an event, who volunteered on election day. Thank you to anyone who helped in any way. A special thank you to candidates Hiram Rivera, Joanne Thompson, and Kim Foskew.
As you have probably heard, our district was the only one in our area to not pass the budget. None of the candidates with children in the public schools was elected to the school board.
However, these sad results are certainly not for lack of trying. As you will see from the analysis below, East Ramapo Voters are the most active and involved of any in the county (and possibly the USA!)
Our public schools have been making due with less for a long time, despite increasing enrollment over the past three years and increasing needs of the children.
This is not due to any lack of concern or commitment on the part of the parents, many of whom are not citizens and therefore cannot vote, despite being parents and taxpayers.
2. News coverage of the election

An excellent analysis of the implications of the failed budget was published in the Journal News

Lack of signatures in this school board election undercuts the security of the entire system according to election experts, as reported in New York Newsday

3. Forum on Testing Tuesday

What is the future of testing in our schools? Don’t miss this opportunity to voice your opinion about our schools and testing.

Come to a public forum held by the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education.

Learn more about the work being done to change testing nationally and how these changes can affect your school-aged children for the better.

 

 

Please join us on Tuesday, May 22 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Rockland Community College, Technology Center, 145 College Road, Suffern, NY. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.

 

 

A confirmation is not necessary to attend, but will be helpful for our planning.

To confirm your attendance or for additional information, please email Jamila Brathwaite at jbrathwaite@cejjesinstitute.org.

To learn more about the Gordon Commission visit www.gordoncommission.org

4. 2012 Election Analysis

 

This year, once again, East Ramapo voters turned out in numbers far beyond the other districts in Rockland.

Voter turnouts were lower all over the county compared to last year, likely due to the steady rain.

The following table includes East Ramapo PUBLIC sector voters only:

 

 

Despite our far greater turnout, our budget was the only one which failed.

This is despite the fact that our YES vote turnout was also much higher than other districts:

 

 

The budget which was voted down was less than half of the tax cap limit allowed by state law.

Teacher Salary and budget increases had already been much lower than the county average.

Over the past five years they have been barely more than inflation.

 

 

5-10-12

Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Emergency Budget Meeting TODAY at Ramapo High School regarding school safety
  2. Neighbor to Neighbor program celebrates public AND private school talent!
  3. How to help with the May 15 election
  4. Message from the editor
1) Emergency Budget Meeting TODAY at Martin Luther King Center
The Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo, are having an Emergency Budget Meeting and Voter Registration at the Martin Luther King Center 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley Thurs May 10th (TONIGHT!) from 6:30pm-9pm.
If you are not already aware of the cuts that face our community, we have eliminated all Elementary Level Assistant Principals, half of the HS Assistant Principals, 3 Guidance Counselors, and 11 of 12 Social Workers in our schools along with some HS ESL services for our most fragile populations. There are many other cuts of concern that pose many questions of our children’s safety and hope for a future that a quality education would otherwise provide.

 

2) Neighbor to Neighbor program event celebrates public AND private school talent!

Saturday, May 12, 7 PM, Green Meadow School, 307 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977

A celebration of our wonderful local talent, featuring performers from Green Meadow, Spring Valley High School and other East Ramapo public schools

A public-private collaboration in support of our public schools and neighbors

Find out how education in our district’s public schools is being affected by budget cuts and how Green Meadow’s Neighbor to Neighbor programs have been reaching out to public school students and their families

3) How to help with the May 15 Election
Are you doing everything you can do to help with the election? Of course you can spread the word to your contacts, neighbors, etc. What else can you do? Here are some ideas:
  1. Go to www.poweroften.us and sign up for the online phone bank. Start making calls, right from home!
  2. Get a list of voters in your area and pay them a visit. It can be a very enriching experience to have a meaningful conversation with your neighbors about the value of public education. Email Michael Miller at miller66@optonline.net to volunteer for the Get out the Vote effort.
  3. Donate to the campaign at www.ccoer.com
  4. Help on election day! Call 845 354 5809 or email at concernedcitizensofeastramapo@gmail.com for info on how to help!
4) Message from the editor
You may have heard the polarization that is occurring in East Ramapo referred to as ‘public school vs. private school’. This is not really an accurate way to describe the situation, as there are many private school parents who do care about the education that students receive in public school. The neighbor to neighbor event on Saturday promises to be one of those moments when the celebration of diversity shows us a path to a better future. I urge everyone to come out and see how beautiful our diverse community can be when the public and private school students are encouraged to work together as peers. – Steve White, editor

5-3-12

Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Rally TODAY at Ramapo High School regarding school safety
  2. Nyack group organizes to restore education funding
  3. How to help with the May 15 election
  4. Message from the editor
1)Rally TODAY at Ramapo HS regarding school safety

The East Ramapo PTA has requested that the School Board President’s address security concerns in our public schools. The complaint is that individuals frequently walk through / trespass on school grounds during school hours, while children are at recess or in class. These individuals, when asked to leave by faculty and Administrators, do not heed the warnings and refuse to leave. To date,the School Board President has not formally responded to the PTA complaint. The Superintendent has publically stated that he has observed trespassers but has not proposed any action to resolve the problem.

The press conference and protest rally will be at Ramapo HS, on Friday, May 4th at 3:30 pm

2) Nyack group organizes to restore education funding
Restore Education Funding (REF) is a group of parents in the Nyack/Valley Cottage school district working hard to make our legislators understand the impact of their action (or inaction) on our kids.
They have organized a petition drive focused on increased education funding and decreased standardized testing. They are also working with groups throughout NYS on a boycott of the upcoming field tests

They will hold an open forum and planning meeting:
Wed., May 9th from 7:30-9:00 pm
Living Christ Church, 151 South Broadway in Nyack:
Nyack Superintendent Dr. Montesano will speak and answer questions about the scope of tests to be expected in schools throughout NYS in the 2012/2013 school year as a result of Federal and State mandates

3) How to help with the May 15 Election
Are you doing everything you can do to help with the election? Of course you can spread the word to your contacts, neighbors, etc. What else can you do? Here are some ideas:
  1. Go to www.poweroften.us and sign up for the online phone bank. Start making calls, right from home!
  2. Get a list of voters in your area and pay them a visit. It can be a very enriching experience to have a meaningful conversation with your neighbors about the value of public education. Email Michael Miller at miller66@optonline.net to volunteer for the Get out the Vote effort.
  3. Donate to the campaign at www.ccoer.com
  4. Help on election day! Call 845 354 5809 or email at concernedcitizensofeastramapo@gmail.com for info on how to help!
4) Message from the editor
I would like to take just a moment to thank all of you who read these messages and all of those who have written to me over the years. We have done so much more than just electing school board members and increasing voter turnout. We have made a large portion of our community aware of the importance of public educational institutions in our life as a community. We have created a sense of ownership. We have highlighted the common responsibility to the children. We have emphasized with bold print and headlines that our common hope for a brighter future depends on what we teach our children and HOW we teach our children. The model of “I got mine and too bad for you” has served humanity very poorly. The ability to win an election is a responsibility, not a prize. The East Ramapo School system is being run by folks who do not care about the education of the children. They do not consider the residents of East Ramapo to be one community- the result is increased segregation in housing patterns and educational institutions in our district. East Ramapo, which had once been a model of diversity, a veritable United Nations of school districts, has now become a model of segregation and polarization. For a while, they tried to pass this new arrangement off as a different kind of diversity. But as sure as the night follows the day, domination follows segregation, arrogance follows power, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And so we cannot be silent. We will protest when they hire lawyers at triple the price while laying off teachers. We will protest when they close schools while enrollment grows and classes become overcrowded. We will protest each time they favor one group and snub another, because that is not what democracy is about. Please do everything you can to help the Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo win the election on May 15, but also please be aware that you are doing very much more as you work to promote the values of education, community, and diversity. We are one people, that is a truth too often denied, but it remains a truth nevertheless. – Steve White, editor

4-24-12

Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Students take the lead in the struggle for quality education
  2. Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo on Facebook
  3. Forum on the Future of Educational Assessment Thursday
  4. How to help with the May 15 election
1) Students take the lead in the struggle for quality education
Students are now making up a large part of the audience at school board hearings, and they are not accepting the excuses being given by their elders for failing to protect quality education.
2) Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo on Facebook
The Concerned Citizen’s have made an event page for the May 15 election! Please visit and RSVP! Invite your friends!
3) Forum on the Future of Educational Assessment Thursday
Have you ever considered why do we have so much testing in school these days? Do you have concerns about testing in schools? Have you ever wondered about why your child is tested and whether you can better help him/her to be prepared? Join Dr. Edmund W.Gordon and the Gordon Commission for a discussion and forum on these topics and more!
Free and open to the public
What: Gordon Commission Forums at Rockland Community College
Where: Technology Center, Ellipse (Rm. 8180)
Parents – Thursday, April 26, 7:00-9:00 pm
To confirm your attendance or for additional information, please email: jbrathwaite@cejjesinstitute.org
4) How to help with the May 15 Election
Are you doing everything you can do to help with the election? Of course you can spread the word to your contacts, neighbors, etc. What else can you do? Here are some ideas:
  1. Go to www.poweroften.us and sign up for the online phone bank. Start making calls, right from home!
  2. Get a list of voters in your area and pay them a visit. It can be a very enriching experience to have a meaningful conversation with your neighbors about the value of public education. Email Michael Miller at miller66@optonline.net to volunteer for the Get out the Vote effort.
  3. Donate to the campaign at www.ccoer.com
  4. Help on election day! Call 845 354 5809 or email at concernedcitizensofeastramapo@gmail.com for info on how to help!

4-16-12

Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Video Highlights from the last school board meeting
  2. Concerned Citizen’s fundraiser Tuesday
  3. Radio show “East Ramapo Underground” update
1) Video Highlights from the last school board meeting
Here are the videos from the April 4th School Board Meeting. Spring Break is almost over & the next meeting next Wednesday, April 18th (7:30) is the first chance to see the budget before its adopted. This will get you back up to speed.
April 2012 cuts & addbacks http://youtu.be/xBWX9LelrVo
Principal Pat Simmons http://youtu.be/6tuM_5Zmnsg
Subpoena by NYS Attorney General http://youtu.be/nAmrUypiZ3o
Lack of textbooks http://youtu.be/KEJty5Md5sM
East Ramapo School Board has done this http://youtu.be/VWEiq2DktU0
Social Worker talks about needs http://youtu.be/p6Q2dCMk-68
2) Concerned Citizen’s Fundraiser Tuesday
Let’s show support for the long overdue change in the leadership of the East Ramapo Schools. This is a one time opportunity to get out the vote-we must restore the district’s educational reputation as a leader in providing a quality educational program for a diverse student body. Please see attached flyer. Please circulate! Look forward to seeing you all!
JOIN US! As the Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo Present: Meet the Candidates Night
At the Chuggin’ Rhino (Corner of Rte 45 & 202)
Tuesday April 17th
7pm-9pm
Suggested Contribution of $25

3) Message from the East Ramapo Underground

East Ramapo Underground Show from April 12, 2012. With Special Guest Judith Johnson. Judith was the 2008 NY State Superintendent of the Year. During the Clinton administration, Judith was acting Assistant U.S. Secretary of Elementary & Secondary Education.
Judith Johnson describes an effective learning environment, the role of the superintendent & the board in the budget process and many other issues.
Remember you can follow the East Ramapo Underground by going to that Face Book Page. Press the Like button.
If you have questions or topics that you would like to see covered write to EastRamapoUnderground@hotmail.com
or follow them on Twitter at ERUnderground
The next show is Thursday @ 10 am on WRCR 1300AM, right after the Steve and Charlie Show.
Thanks, Antonio Luciano

4-8-12

Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Students refuse to participate in Dr. Klein’s “Community Forum” charade
  2. Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo to hold campaign kickoff at RCC
  3. Rockland Community College to Hold Public Forums on the Future of Educational Assessment
  4. “East Ramapo Underground” Spring Break Edition
  5. Message from the Editor
1) Students refuse to participate in Dr. Klein’s “Community Forum” charade
Dr. Klein tried to pull a fast one by producing a “Community Forum” with a pre-selected list of unacceptable cuts for the community to choose from. Students rallied outside prior to the forum, and brought the rally inside to show the board their displeasure at being offered such a crass manipulation.
At the next board meeting, the students came and showed what real community feedback looks like. Dozens of students spoke eloquently about the benefits and opportunities that public education provides. Video is not yet available.
2) Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo to hold campaign kickoff at RCC
Hello Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo.
The public community came much closer last year to winning back the school board. This year, we believe we have the strategy and plans to win, with your help.
We need all of you to help communicate with the voting public so they will be aware of how the school boards fiscal mismanagement is destroying our kids future and our home values.
This effort is dedicated to providing the information that every voter need to know, in a media they are familiar with (postal mail, telephone, social media), so they can make conscious decisions regarding who will represent their interest on the school board.
We have scheduled a meet the candidates and canvassing kickoff meeting on the following date and time:
Date: Wednesday April 11, 2012
Location: Rockland Community College, 145 College Road, Suffern, NY (Faculty Dining Room in the Cultural Arts Bldg.)
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM
3) Rockland Community College to Hold Public Forums on the Future of Educational Assessment
Free and open to the public
Ramapo- Parents, educators and students who are interested in the future of educational assessment are invited to participate and share their thoughts during a series of public forums
What: Gordon Commission Forums at Rockland Community College
Where: Technology Center, Ellipse (Rm. 8180)
Parents – Thursday, April 26, 7:00-9:00 pm
What do parents want and need from assessment in education?
HS and College Students – Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 7:00-8:30 pm
What do you seek from educational assessment and testing? What troubles you about contemporary testing practices?
For more information about the work of the Gordon Commission visit www.gordoncommission.org
For additional information about the forums, please call the RCC Office of the President: 845-574-4214 or email: contact@gordoncommission.org
4) East Ramapo Underground Spring Break Edition
Thursday, April 12 on WRCR 1300-AM from 10 to 11 AM
The East Ramapo Underground will cover the issues and discuss the challenges facing the East Ramapo School District.
The show will also stream live over the internet from www.wrcr.com

From your hosts,
Peggy Hatton & Antonio Luciano

5) Message from the editor
Our community has room for people who disagree on important issues. The board and Dr. Klein are trying to craft budget proposals around “wedge” issues, hoping that we will argue among ourselves over how to split up the pie. The sad part is that anyone would think we can be divided so easily. Only the most naive person would respond to these obvious, amateurish manipulations. We are not about to be divided over whether to fund music, or sports or any other programs. The reason we find ourselves in the place we are at is that we are the victims of a “divide and conquer” strategy. We cannot allow ourselves to be manipulated into working against each other. One of the tactics used by those who practice divide and conquer is to create a difficult situation, and then befriend some of the people and help them out. This of course creates resentment between those who do not have control and diverts it from those who do.
We know better now than to fight amongst ourselves.
No teacher is any other teacher’s enemy.
No parent is any other parent’s adversary.
No taxpayer wants to see his neighbor’s property values ruined.
We are all in this together. We will not be reduced to arguing over the crumbs after those sitting at the table have had their fill. We refuse to accept second class status. Each of us has a responsibility to advocate for all the people and programs that contribute to the education of our children and avoid arguing over favorites. We must peacefully and respectfully correct anyone who preaches divisiveness or negativity. We have achieved a lot this year. We have stood up for our rights and as a result are standing toe to toe with the bullies. Now is the time for calm determination. – Steven White, editor

4-2-12

Power of Ten Update
Special edition: Announcing a new group!
The Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo is a new group which has formed and endorsed a slate of candidates for the East Ramapo School Board who are committed to putting “children first”.
YOUR HELP Is needed for the Phone Bank, the GOTV campaign, and monetary donations
Please read the following message from the group and give them your full support!
Dear Neighbor,
The stakes in this upcoming election for the East Ramapo Board of Education have never been higher. Nothing less that the fundamental value of a free public education is on the line. Decisions made by the present majority of board members have led to failed fiscal management and the moral bankruptcy of our school system.
It is time to change who leads our schools. You see, the American promise has always been that we educate all our children so they are prepared to become members of a democratic community. The defining issue of this upcoming board election is how to keep that promise alive.
We can settle for a dysfunctional school system that fails to use our tax dollars to educate students and also reduces the value of our homes or, we can begin to restore a school system where every child has a fair shot at success.
The Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo, a group of citizens who organized to restore our schools to the levels of excellence that in years past attracted a diverse group of parents to our community, have endorsed our slate because we are committed to putting “children first”. We are going to do whatever it takes to restore the mission of the board of education to protecting every child’s civil right to a free, public education.
Folks, this is a make or break moment for our children and our community.
That is why we are hoping that you will rush a donation to our campaign. Every dollar will help us win back the board majority. No contribution is too small. This is truly a grassroots effort.
Checks are to be made out Gordon and Gordon and mailed to 3 Cooper Morris Drive, Pomona New York 10970. Donations can also be made through our website, www.ccoer.com.
If you would like additional information you can call 845 354 5809 or email us at concernedcitizensofeastramapo@gmail.com.
Please visit our website www.ccoer.com to sign up for the phone bank. Email Michael Miller at miller66@optonline.net to participate n the Get Out The Vote Campaign.
On May 15 please vote for us.
Sincerely,
Kim Foskew, Hiram Rivera, JoAnne Thompson

3-27-12

Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Video Highlights from Last week’s meeting
  2. ‘Budget Forum’ Wednesday March 28
  3. Martin Luther King Center Fundraiser
  4. Radio show “East Ramapo Underground” update
1) Video Highlights from Last week’s meeting
The videos from the March 14th meeting is here. You can watch them all at www.youtube.com/luckylouproduction
Some highlights:
Betty Brown says be your brothers keeper http://youtu.be/Rkmcr2tiB-M
Kim Foskew says give the kids what they need http://youtu.be/LvcDu1YqsAU
2) Budget Forum Wednesday, March 28th @ 7:00 pm
105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley
Once again, the school board finds itself trying to piece together a budget at the last minute, without ever having substantively discussed the failure of the district to respond to the needs of the students.
Please come to support the students, even if you can’t stay for the whole meeting.
3) The Martin Luther King Multipurpose Center Fundraiser
The Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center Inc. will hold its 21st Annual Awards Benefit Dinner Dance on Sunday, April 1, 2012, from 4:00pm – 9:00pm at the Clubhouse at Patriot Hills, 19 Clubhouse Lane, Stony Point, NY.
The honorees this year include Ms. Maureen Barnett – Principal, Hempstead School, East Ramapo and the Padres Unidos Parent Group of Ramapo High School.
4) Message from the East Ramapo Underground
For those folks who missed the first show of the East Ramapo Underground, you’re in luck. The show is now available!
The entire show can be heard at http://youtu.be/fPv5jFLyins
Remember you can follow the East Ramapo Underground by going to that Face Book Page. Press the Like button.
If you have questions or topics that you would like to see covered write to EastRamapoUnderground@hotmail.com
or follow them on Twitter at ERUnderground
The next show is Thursday @ 10 am on WRCR 1300AM, right after the Steve and Charlie Show.
Thanks, Antonio Luciano

3-19-12

Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Students plead for mercy from school board
  2. Next board meeting is Wednesday March 21
  3. Rockland Community College to Hold Public Forums on the Future of Educational Assessment
  4. New Radio show “East Ramapo Underground”
  5. Message from the Editor
1) Students plead for mercy from school board
The videos from the March 14th meeting is here. You can watch them all at www.youtube.com/luckylouproduction or click on the link for any video.
Vanessa Decembre talks about education http://youtu.be/wrvp-_poygc
Tendrina Alexander talks about high school http://youtu.be/C4G1a_WPSTA
Israel Colon talks about Thespian Troupe 721 http://youtu.be/0PO2EsiraRU
Nicole Canada talks about the school district http://youtu.be/7vOLLTboaPM
Tatiana Vera talks about going to school in East Ramapo http://youtu.be/XPpTXdUFN5o
2) The next School Board Meeting is Wednesday, March 21st @ 7:30 pm
105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley
Please come early to support the students, even if you can’t stay for the whole meeting.
3) Rockland Community College to Hold Public Forums on the Future of Educational Assessment
Free and open to the public
Ramapo- Parents, educators and students who are interested in the future of educational assessment are invited to participate and share their thoughts during a series of public forums
What: Gordon Commission Forums at Rockland Community College
Where: Technology Center, Ellipse (Rm. 8180)
When: Educators – Thursday, March 22, 7:00-9:00 pm
From your unique perspective, what do educators need from assessment, and how can testing be used to improve teaching and learning?
Parents – Thursday, April 26, 7:00-9:00 pm
What do parents want and need from assessment in education?
HS and College Students – Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 7:00-8:30 pm
What do you seek from educational assessment and testing? What troubles you about contemporary testing practices?
For more information about the work of the Gordon Commission visit www.gordoncommission.org
For additional information about the forums, please call the RCC Office of the President: 845-574-4214 or email: contact@gordoncommission.org
4) Join the East Ramapo Underground
Every Thursday on WRCR 1300-AM right after the Steve and Charlie show from 10:10am – 10:40am.
The East Ramapo Underground will cover the issues and discuss the challenges facing the East Ramapo School District.
The first show will be Thursday, March 22, 2012.
The show will also stream live over the internet from www.wrcr.com
5) Message from the editor
Budget season is upon us. Once again, the school board finds itself trying to piece together a budget at the last minute, without ever having substantively discussed the failure of the district to respond to the needs of the students. The usual excuses are given about state aid, taxpayer resistance, and the economy. But there is a greater problem than any of these and that is lack of vision on behalf of the school board. A lack of vision which stems from the divisive way in which the board members have gained power. A lack of vision which stems from the lack of respect that the board members have for the students, the teachers, and the concept of public education itself.
This school board showed its real colors when it let Pedro Santana go. Pedro was the darling of the students, and beloved by the staff. He was the most effective administrator the district has ever seen, according to long time staff who served directly under prior administrators. He was inspiring the district to a new vision, one of recognizing the value of our diversity. The usual excuses about money were absent- this was a cold hearted act which seriously set back the morale of the district.
This school board has been propelled into power by mighty financial interests who manipulate divisiveness for their own gain. They are the 1% of East Ramapo, the real estate investors who have the most to gain by gutting the budget and scapegoating the students, the teachers, and the community.
The votes they cannot get by bullying they get by propagating myths. How often have you heard it said that “private school parents pay twice?” While it is certainly hard for many families to pay private school tuition, the truth is that as a whole, the district pays out more in services to private schools than it collects in taxes from the parents with children in private school. This is verified by the district’s own internal study. Another myth is that East Ramapo parents “just don’t vote”. The truth is that citizens in East Ramapo vote at 3 times the rate of other districts in the county; indeed they have one of the highest voter turnout rates for school elections in the nation. Another myth is that East Ramapo teachers are overpaid. The truth is that over the last decade East Ramapo teacher salaries have risen less than most districts in Rockland, barely keeping up with inflation. The most despicable myth of all is that our kids are just not able to succeed. The fact is that these are smart children just waiting to be given a chance. They need a district that understands them- where they come from, and where they want to go in life. They deserve a district that has a vision for their success. That is what this newsletter has dedicated itself to for the past four years. – Steven White, editor

1-8-12

In This Issue:

Next School Board Meeting
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley
7:30 p.m.

Martin Luther King Celebration
Monday, January 16, 2012
Ramapo High School Auditorium
4:30 p.m.
Find out more: http://www.martinlutherking-mpc.org/subpage.cfm?tbl=4&ID=71
Event on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/256726381059066/

New Section: Tony Luciano’s YouTube Videos:
Starting with this issue there will be a section reserved just for the latest updates from Tony Luciano and his YouTube videos.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a 5 minute clip at 29 frames per second worth?

Treasurer’s & Budget Status Reports: Bad news! The question that is not asked is, are we broke? Did financial mismanagement by the board finally catch up?
Watch the video here http://youtu.be/oUsX_I4ppZU
Here are some videos from the last three board meetings to get everyone up to speed about what has been happening in East Ramapo:
Peggy Hatton speaks about unequal treatment http://youtu.be/ncYsxUu0fSU
Hempstead Children and overcrowding http://youtu.be/6l85fT7MfJo
Carolyn Watson asks about Progress reports http://youtu.be/ax2eJgdgh0k
Christine Theodore talks overcrowding http://youtu.be/7Lfg4MPrExI
K. Watson speaks about overcrowding http://youtu.be/UY9KoQbLu_8
Klein cant answer how kids are doing http://youtu.be/Ghw-CRBppEw
Thanks
Antonio Luciano

Former Superintendent Sues East Ramapo

Read about it in the Journal News
http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011312260052

This caused another situation regarding the union contract:

Official Announcements

This section reserved for official announcements.  No announcements at this time.

School Board Campaign News
The 2012 campaign has begun. Visit http://poweroften.us/new/2012-campaign/ for more information

Message from the Editor
2011 was a year of many exciting moments.  Some exhilarating successes, some heartbreaking losses.  The readers of this email list know the focus will always be on building an informed, active and involved community.  The right to education has been at the heart of the fight for justice and equality.  Last year we made a special point to celebrate Thurgood Marshall who began his history-making work in desegregating education right here in Rockland County.  This year I ask everyone to re-examine the dream that Dr. King shared with us.  Every American today is living a better life thanks to Dr. King.  And yet how far we have to go.  For those who saw the movie “The Help”, remember how disturbing it was that the racists wanted to build separate bathrooms for the maids, to “protect our children”.  The parents imagination of terrible things that their children would catch from ‘the other’ seems tragically comic, almost quaint, today. Or does it?  – Steve White, editor

Dear Neighbor,

May 17th, 2011 is a very important day for all residents and especially for the children who attend East Ramapo Schools. On that day all registered voters must go to the polls to vote on the budget and to vote for school board members who support all of our children. Each vote will have a profound effect on the educational opportunities for our children and, on the property values of our homes. Make no mistake, the two principles are inextricably intertwined and we must take responsibility for assuring a successful outcome. Campaigns have been lost or won by a single vote and what is at stake in this election is no less that the future of an entire generation of East Ramapo students. Whether or not you have a child in our schools your vote is needed.

There are 49,000 registered voters in the East Ramapo School District, fewer than 20% show up to cast a vote for the budget and for board members. The result-, we get what we did not vote for. The power and will of the majority of residents goes unused. And then, we spend the rest of the year complaining about the results of our failure to vote. The school board has been immersed in controversy for several years which has led to an unfavorable image of our entire community.

  • The state comptroller’s office is examining district fiscal operations for possible improprieties
  • The USDOE Office of Civil Rights is investigating allegations of discriminatory actions,
  • The New York Commissioner of Education has temporarily stopped the sale of a school building offered to a private organization for well under the appraised value
  • Budget decisions are poorly made with no invitation for community input
  • There is no evidence of long range planning for budget development
  • Decisions are being made that will lead to a major shortfall of funds in just two years
  • Over 206 staff members have been laid off in the past two years, resulting in fewer educational opportunities for public school students.
  • The board continues to focus on selling property to private organizations while ignoring the issues of student achievement
  • Citizens seeking to speak at board meetings are ignored, disrespected and dismissed

It is up to concerned citizens to establish a community that is not divided by race, religion or wealth and to see to it that access to a quality education is a civil right guaranteed to all our children. A victory on May 17th will bring to a halt, the crisis in our schools. You can organize a get out the vote campaign in your neighborhood, show up at the polls and, you can request flyers to distribute to your neighbors. You can also use your computer and telephone to make phone calls to registered voters by going to www.poweroften.us/new