It’s Mondaire!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Election Results
2. Ward System on the Way
3. Your Help Needed

1) Election Results

Mondaire Jones, our own East Ramapo alumnus, has won the Democratic primary election and will likely be our next representative in the U.S. Congress!!! This is why we fight for every child in East Ramapo to have a great education, so they can go on and do great things! 

2) Ward System on the Way

The Appeals Court has rejected the school board’s request to stop the ward system from being implemented until the appeal is decided. This means there will be a school board election using the ward system this year. Exactly when is not known yet. In rejecting the board’s request for a stay, the Appeals Court said that the board had failed to show “likelihood of success on the merits” of the case.

3) Your Help Needed

The NY State Education Department wants to update regulations that ensure students in non-public schools get an education which is at least equivalent to public school. This is especially relevant to East Ramapo where the majority of children attend non-public schools, many of which provide very little education. Graduates of these schools have made complaints which have been ignored by the district. The updated regulations would clarify the responsibilities of the state and the district.

You can help to support the updated regulations by filling out this form


Yes, It’s Racism!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Yes, It’s Racism!
2. Budget Fails
3. Vote TODAY!

1) Yes, It’s Racism!

In his closing arguments against the ward system for East Ramapo, the school board’s lawyer claimed that the Orthodox school board members and their supporters are colorblind: “Do you really think that the District’s Orthodox voters would vote differently if the majority of public school students were white?” 

Like all ‘colorblind’ arguments, the school board’s plea is in reality only blind to the nature of race discrimination. In fact, indifference to the plight of people of color is one of the major characteristics of organizational racism.

Another hallmark of racist mindset would be to claim that you know what people of color really need better than they do. Again and again, the board makes the assertion that “race is not what is driving the elections, it’s something else”. They assert that Black and Latino members of the community and the organizations representing their interests are untrustworthy. They systematically exclude the board members of color from conversations about how the board should deal with a complaint from the NAACP. The white board majority did not seek guidance from the black board members even after a judge had ruled that the facts supported the NAACP. 

Today, all around the country, people are reexamining unspoken assumptions and long established policies that sanction white privilege and facilitate oppression of black and brown people. The white men who make up the majority of the East Ramapo school board would have you believe that they (and their supporters) are all immune from racism, and they make this claim, astonishingly and boldly, in the same breath that they condemn people of color as untrustworthy and unqualified to know and express their own interests!!!

In perhaps the most perverse twist of all, the white board members are now using their power to take money away from an educational system that serves the children of color in another ill-fated attempt to perpetuate their racist system. They are literally robbing education from children of color to pay for a lawsuit to prove they are not racist. Could they possibly make it any clearer? Yes, It’s racism!

2) Budget Fails

East Ramapo has had more failed budgets than any other district in New York State. This is because those who designed the system of funding and governing public schools never anticipated a situation where the private schools were the majority. When the same people who use the schools are the ones who pay the taxes and make decisions about raising and spending money, the system functions as intended. When the majority uses private schools, the checks and balances inherent in the system are removed.

The private school system usually tries to use a failed budget as a way to blackmail the district into shifting more funds from public programs to private services. Like any other kind of blackmail, paying once only guarantees a higher price next time. 

Public school advocates have been sounding the alarm to the state for decades. What is really needed are changes to the governance and funding systems. We are waiting on Albany to correct these. The fate of East Ramapo is in the hands of Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, and Senator Stewart Cousins.

Detailed information on this year’s failed budget is available from The Journal News.

3) Vote TODAY!

Today, June 23, is the Democratic Primary Election. If you have not already voted by absentee or early voting, this is your last chance! Absentee ballots must be postmarked today, or you may vote in person, but be aware that they have changed some polling places.

East Ramapo is a hot topic once again. As previously reported in The Power of Ten, Mondaire Jones is an East Ramapo graduate making a historic run for congress, and oversight of East Ramapo is a major topic in the NY Senate race, with explosive allegations by Elijah Reichlin-Melnick that opposition to a monitor with veto power has become THE DECIDING FACTOR for the “leadership of the Hasidic community”.


East Ramapo is Top Issue in NY Senate Race

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: East Ramapo is Top Issue in NY Senate Race

East Ramapo has often been a top issue in local and state elections. But in this year’s Democratic Primary for NY State Senator, one brave candidate has drawn back the curtain on how opposition to a monitor with veto power has become THE DECIDING FACTOR for the “leadership of the Hasidic community”!!!

The candidate who stood up for more oversight, better education and JUSTICE for East Ramapo was Elijah Reichlin-Melnick.

Here is his Facebook post:


School Board Loses in Court AGAIN!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. School Board Loses in Court AGAIN!
2. Updated Voting Info
3. COVID Testing Site in Spring Valley

1) School Board Loses in Court AGAIN!

In perhaps the most unsurprising legal decision in history, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has denied the school board’s request for a ‘stay’ of the decision of U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel’s ruling ordering a ward system for school board elections. The Court of Appeals found that the “district has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of the appeal”.

This is just the latest in a long series of legal misadventures that our rogue school board has embarked on since they abruptly switched from their competent and long-serving local law firm of Greenberg Wanderman & Fromson. The Nanuet based firm was charging a very reasonable $120/hr, and had an impeccable record for the district. Giving no reason, other than his own uninhibited power to do whatever he pleased, school board member Aron Wieder and his bloc vote on the board removed this competent and respectable law firm and replaced them with the very expensive and controversial firm of Miranda and D’Agostino. During their tenure in East Ramapo, they would add “infamous” to that CV, as they repeatedly and aggressively accosted school children and parents, without a single word of reprimand from the board until one lawyer was caught on camera and it went VIRAL.(warning: video of school board lawyer contains language some may deem unsuitable for children).

At that time, the legal shenanigans were focused on abusing the interpretation of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act) in order to funnel more public dollars into the private religious schools favored by the board members. The board wanted a lawyer who would settle the cases that Fromson had been winning. Another counsel which had been approached by the board to do this work responded that “…it is our opinion that a board of education’s directive to place a child in a setting contrary to that proposed by a district’s CSE (Committee on Special Education) … may rise to the level of an inappropriate gift of public monies.”

The board went ahead with their plan anyway, and received several strong warnings from the NY State Education Dept. (NYSED). The board then sued NYSED (and lost) and appealed (and lost). All of the costs of these legal actions came at the expense of programs and services for the children in public schools. Do these actions give the appearance that the members of the public school board are putting the interests of private religious schools first? You don’t have to take my word for it, according to their own lawyer they “have never denied” that they “emphasize” services for the private schools.

Despite the overwhelming evidence and record that the massive increase in legal costs were the direct result of the school board’s own reckless disregard for the public funds they are entrusted with, they continue to blame everything on the public school parents who have tried to hold them accountable. The truth is they have even sued their own insurance company. In that case, the judge found that the district had been overcharged millions of dollars by their high priced lawyers. 

In the most recent case, once again, serious questions were raised, even by the judge, about whether the school board was being reckless with the children’s education funds in pursuit of the fleeting phantoms of their own imaginary righteousness. In short, they unreasonably denied the repeated requests by civil liberties and civil rights groups to address the longstanding and exhaustively documented inequities in their election process. At every step, they were offered a less expensive way to solve the problem. At every step, and quite ironically, they excluded board members of color in forming their answer that ‘no, we don’t exclude people of color’. Given that the next steps will again involve raiding the funds for programs for children in public school, with no impact on the services for the private schools that most board members “emphasize”, and given that the appeals court itself has questioned the likelihood of success, the question must be asked: “Has the East Ramapo school board now stepped over a line, where they have so far abandoned their duty to the public good that they should be removed from office?”

2) Updated Voting Info

Many people have never gotten a ballot. If you have not received one, please contact the district clerk. If you have not yet mailed your ballot, the district is now putting out boxes for ballots. Since ballots received by mail after 5 PM on June 9 will not be counted, it may be wise to use the box rather than take a chance on sending by mail.

Please visit the district clerk’s web page for details (I am purposely NOT giving details here because they change faster than I can keep up).

3) COVID Testing Site in Spring Valley

The Martin Luther King Center is hosting a free COVID testing program. From June 1 through June 12, Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM at the center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley. Call 833-422-7369 to make an appointment.


Ballot Bewilderment

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Ballot Bewilderment

Ballots have begun to arrive in people’s mailboxes. They include the candidates for school board, even though the court has enjoined (prohibited) the district from holding another at-large (discriminatory) election. This is because, according to the district clerk, the ballots were already printed. The clerk says you should “not vote for the school board candidates”. However, she does not say that it will affect anything else if you do. 

The school budget and library trustee vote are STILL HAPPENING. 

If you got your ballot, you should fill it out and mail it back immediately. Please mark YES for the budget and for Library Trustee Alexandre.

Be aware that ballots can only be returned by mail, and that ballots received back at the district after the June 9 deadline will not be counted.

If you have not received a ballot, you may want to contact the district for further instructions. The contact information is on the district website.