Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Advocates for Justice says school board members should not use district funds for their own legal defense!
  2. Federal Judge allows ‘discovery’ in class action lawsuit!
  3. Urgent: Your contribution is needed!
  4. Message from the editor

1) Advocates for Justice says school board members should not use district funds for their own legal defense:

Supporters of a class-action lawsuit against the East Ramapo school district want to block the Board of Education from using public money to defend school officials in several ongoing legal actions. Betty Carmand and Steven White, through their lawyers at Advocates for Justice, say that NY law does NOT allow for paying legal expenses when employees are acting outside the “scope of their public employment or duties,” and when they have NOT “appeared to have acted in good faith with respect to the exercise of his powers or the performance of his duties.” The actions of the school board members have been intentional, reckless, and borderline criminal; they have been cited by NYSED, the New York State Comptroller and the Commissioner of Education as in violation of law.

Why are we asking for the commissioner to act? Exorbitant legal fees are being incurred — at the expense of children’s public school education — to defend board members and employees for their wrongful acts. We are asking the Commissioner to stop the the board from gorging at what they have come to regard as their own personal “piggy bank.” The board shows no temperance or remorse in wielding a butcher knife to the ERCSD’s budget and carving out its purported entitlement to legal fees first, failing to consider let alone leave sufficient funds for that which its children desperately need most: educators and books. The wholly self-centered and conflicted board believes that legal coverage is automatic, and that they need do nothing more than vote to give it to themselves. Serious misconduct is at issue and is being investigated by no less than three separate state and federal agencies. Its president for nine of the last ten years is in State prison. The district is operating at a six million dollar deficit, and now has authorized the expenditure of millions of dollars in legal fees to defend what will undoubtedly be established as improper conduct on the part of its individual members. Were it simply a matter of money, one might not take such offense; however, the East Ramapo Central School District is comprised of thousands of children, most of them poor, who depend on East Ramapo for their education. They have suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm unless NY State intervenes.

2) Federal Judge allows ‘discovery’ in class action lawsuit:

On October 16th, Advocates for Justice appeared in Federal Court in White Plains in the first court date of the class action lawsuit. The lawyers for the school board argued to immediately dismiss the case, but were rebuffed by the judge. The next step in the case is called “discovery,” in which we will attempt to gather and organize all the facts and data. People with information that is pertinent to the case are encouraged to contact Advocates for Justice lawyer Laura Barbieri at (914) 819-3387 or lbarbieri@advocatesny.com

3) Your contribution is needed!

Advocates for Justice, a New York based non-profit 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. The damage is clear. 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!

This legal case is getting national media attention. All of America is watching what we do here in Rockland County to get justice. This is our opportunity to take a stand and send a strong message.

YOUR CONTRIBUTION is essential to the success of this action! Funds are needed NOW to continue the extensive preparation we need toward finally getting our day in court and securing JUSTICE for the children of East Ramapo!!!

The other side has for-profit law firms and they may be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars defending actions that hurt our children. We don’t need hundreds of thousands to win, but we need more money than our non-profit organization has now.

Please go to https://secure.qgiv.com/for/jk40ipsos/ to make your donation today. No contribution is too small.

If you can, automatically donate $10 per month or more. You can do it at the same web page: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/jk40ipsos/

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 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 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.

Tell your friends: “Justice is coming to East Ramapo!” And we have to go out and get it!

– Steve White, editor