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


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


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