The Invisible Ones

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. The Invisible Ones
2. Listening Sessions Monday November 29
3. YAFFED Gala December 7

1) The Invisible Ones

It is a well-known fact that ever since the hostile takeover of the East Ramapo public school system, the basic functions of the system have been systematically dismantled. 

However, the personal stories of the lives impacted by the pillaging of district resources remain invisible to the wider community. 

What is the impact of dropping out of high school on an individual’s life experience? What is the impact on our community when as many as 5 out of 10 Latino students do not finish high school?

What is the impact on a mother or father when their child is not learning to read? How does a child feel about him or herself when they are still struggling to learn the alphabet in second or third grade?

How does a teacher feel when they see children failing because classes are overcrowded, children are not placed according to need, there are no social workers, there was no bus, etc. etc. etc.?

The actions of the school board have directly caused these outcomes. They are the only ones who benefit from the invisibility of their victims. Those who remain silent are accomplices. As Bishop Desmond Tutu said – “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

2) Listening Sessions Monday November 29

Proyecto Faro and the Every Child Counts Committee invites you to their upcoming community listening sessions on Zoom and Facebook Live.

Monday, November 29, 2021
English 6-7pm
Spanish 7-8pm
Creole 8-9pm 
Meeting ID: 849 0583 8431 Passcode: 242254
Find your local number: / +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
FB Live @ Proyecto FARO 

3) YAFFED Gala December 7

The other invisible victims of educational neglect in East Ramapo are children attending Ultra-Orthodox yeshivas. While some Jewish schools offer both religious and secular education, many do not. Failure to educate a child in private school has just as much negative impact on our community. The state education department has announced they will be implementing new regulations by the next school year. What better place to learn all about it than the Yaffed Virtual Gala?


Too Much News!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Forum Postponed
2. Monday Pizza and Justice!
3. Too Much News

1) Forum Postponed

The Candidates Forum that was scheduled for Nov 13 has been postponed to a date not yet determined. 

2) Monday Pizza and Justice!

Are you dealing with mold or other environmental issues in your school, or lack of busing, or access to remote education, or special education? 

The New York Civil Liberty Union wants to share ideas (and pizza) with you!


Monday November 8th
Martin Luther King Multi- Purpose Center
110 Bethune Boulevard, Spring Valley
4:30-6:30 PM

The invitation is to parents, students, and other members of the community. Come and meet the NYCLU Staff and get to know them and their work. A community workshop will be held, and pizza and drinks will be provided as well!

3) Too Much News

A special thanks to those who noticed Power of Ten has been quiet lately. There has been a lot happening, and we are short-staffed. I recommend readers also subscribe to the Journal News, and the Facebook groups “Power of Ten – East Ramapo for the Children” at and “Save Our Schools: East Ramapo” at

A very brief rundown of issues just this school year:

    • Hundreds of students had no bus service, or intermittent service. Parents scrambled to get kids to school, and worried as they came home hours late. The situation may be improving, school board members have requested the numbers from the superintendent. One thing is for sure, many hours of instruction have been missed due to the bus driver shortage. Although there is a national shortage, in East Ramapo much of the blame for the shortage must be placed on the school board, which has over the last ten years sold all its buses and laid off all its drivers. the board was informed that this was bad policy by Superintendent Oustacher, who said when there is an emergency, you will need your own transportation department. The school board knew this was true, because at the same time they were dismantling the public transportation system they were funding a private system that was buying buses and hiring drivers, all on special contracts that commit those buses to only serve private schools. So they knew how important having your own system was, and they made sure it happened for the children that they considered important.
    • Spring Valley HS has been closed due to environmental hazards. The district has attempted to place students elsewhere, but the majority are back to remote learning. The number of students who actually participate, and the quality of that participation is unclear. Why the district did not discover the mold earlier is not known.  This is another instance in which the school board’s actions have directly harmed children’s education. The district has been overcrowded ever since the board sold Colton and Hillcrest Elementary schools. Again, Dr. Oustacher said they should not sell the schools, because future needs are hard to predict. No, he didn’t have a crystal ball, it was just common sense for anyone whose main concern is the operation of the public school system for the good of the public school students. However, our school board has its own agenda, which is not the mission of the district, it is the benefit of their own private school system. 
    • Hundreds of affected parents have attempted to get answers at their schools, at the administration building, and finally at school board meetings. The school board has authorized use of force to prevent parents from entering meetings, resulting in the police being called to prevent school security from harming parents. The school board continues to use tactics to discourage and harass parents from participating in board meetings, including onerous sign in requirements, “losing” speaker cards, and calling the police for no good reason. Rather than an opportunity for dialogue, the board has turned their meetings into a confrontation, using gaslighting tactics to provoke emotional reactions and ultimately discourage parent and community participation.
    • The board created a subcommittee to appoint a community advisory board as required by law, but then overruled their subcommittee to remove Luis Nivelo, Latino Community Activist and public school parent. Mr. Nivelo would have been the only Latino male on the advisory board, he was recommended by the subcommittee. His replacement is highly problematic for a school district where 65% of the students are Latino, and zero percent of the school board is Latino. 
    • The state education department (NYSED) has a constitutional obligation to ensure every child’s right to an education. The first children they abandoned were the ones in private religious schools where not even the most basic education is provided. Many public school advocates also turned a blind eye. However, it is the nature of universal human rights that if they are not ensured for any-one then they are lost for every-one. Tens of thousands of children have already suffered irreparable harm. If not NYSED, who will act? If not now, when? 


All or None

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Academic and Fiscal Improvement Plan
2. 2022 School Board Candidate Search
3. All or None

1) Academic and Fiscal Improvement Plan

The Monitors are required to solicit public comment and to consider your public comment in developing a plan. Read the plan here:

Submitting public comment is simple, but we don’t have a lot of time. The deadline is October 19th. See here for full details:

2) 2022 School Board Candidate Search

The next school board election is May 17, 2022. As always, we will gather to unite our community in this effort. The first step is for those interested in serving on the school board to fill out the questionnaire, available here:

Please help us find people who would be good school board members. There are many qualified people in our community, but they may be unaware of the opportunity until someone brings it up. Why not you?

We have reserved space for a public forum at the Hillcrest Firehouse, 374 N Main St, Spring Valley. on Saturday November 13 from 11:00 AM -1:00 PM. Please save the date and come ready to discuss the issues our school district is facing.

3) All or None

The Power of Ten is organized to advocate for the rights of the children who attend the public schools in East Ramapo. In the course of advocating for these rights, it has become apparent that they ensue from the right of all children to an education, and that unless this right is guaranteed to all, it is guaranteed to none.

Read this powerful Op-Ed in USA Today about what’s being done to address the plight of victims of educational neglect in East Ramapo:


Jim Crow Busing in East Ramapo

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Jim Crow Busing in East Ramapo
2. Private Privilege, Public Pain
3. NCLU Student Ambassadors Petition

1) Jim Crow Busing in East Ramapo

Ever since the takeover of the school board in 2005, the transportation department has been systematically dismantled. Now, the last of the buses have been sold and all the drivers laid off. Superintendent Oustacher had warned against this move, because when there is an emergency, having your own buses and drivers means the service keeps running.

At the same time that the board was dismantling the public-school bus system, they were approving contracts to large private schools to build their own fleets and hire drivers. As a result, the impact of the recent shortage has fallen disproportionally on the public school students of color, who wait for buses that sometimes never come while they watch their white neighbors zooming by to private schools in taxpayer funded buses.

For obvious reasons, a school bus system should be a model of stability. Major problems announced at the last minute are rightly terrifying for parents.

Parents attending the August 24 board meeting were told that bus passes would be sent out on August 30. However, as school started on September 10, hundreds of children had not received bus passes. Children missed school and parents had to miss work. The ensuing chaos also caused fear for the children’s safety. The district was frantically changing schedules, at the last minute, leaving people stranded and even worse with a sense of insecurity about sending their children on the bus. Many parents prepared themselves to attend the next board meeting to express their concerns and get answers about how the district was going to live up to its responsibilities.

The board routinely sets up artificial obstacles to grassroots parent organizing and participation such as changing meeting times and places. The last two meetings have been no exception, with one last minute cancellation, two last minute reschedulings, and arbitrary rules on capacity. 

Parents attempting to enter the school board meeting on Sept 13 were met with physical force by district personnel. There was a sense of fierce determination from those locked out of the meeting, especially from the mothers. The chief of security refused to call the police, and instead left a junior to watch the door, who seemed to believe his job included getting physical with the worried and frustrated parents. The situation was only defused when the police arrived (I had to call the police when the security chief refused).

Parent activist Ana Maeda is calling for a rally at the district offices this Friday to demand action by Governor Hochul to address these issues.

Where: 105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley
When: Friday, September 17 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM

2) Private Privilege, Public Pain

The NYCLU has released a report titled “Private Privilege, Public Pain” that describes the systemic racism that has ravaged the East Ramapo Central School District, in all its gory details, and the powers and responsibilities that NY state officials have to ensure the children’s right to a quality education.

Read the report here:

3) NCLU Student Ambassadors Petition

East Ramapo students have drafted a petition to express the need for better school conditions and supports for students.

Please add your name to support their demands here:

The Power of the Veto is Here!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. The Power of the Veto is Here!
2. An Unorthodox Education: Exclusive Screening
3. Beyond The Wall

1) The Power of the Veto is Here!

For too long, the East Ramapo Central School District has faced a multitude of problems with its leadership. The School Board has continually given priority to private religious schools at the expense of the public school system that almost entirely serves students of color. While state monitors and a successful voting rights lawsuit have helped the situation, the school board has continued to pursue racist policies, leaving public schools severely underfunded. 

On June 29th, Governor Cuomo signed a new law empowering the monitors to take action against the school board when needed. East Ramapo is the only school district in the state where monitors have been given this authority, and its because the parents, students, and activists made their voices heard. Here are some of the new provisions in the law:

State monitors now have the power to override decisions made by the school board that undermine the strategic improvement plan for the district. The monitors, along with the state education commissioner, have approval power over the district budget. The monitors can require school board members to attend trainings, such as the anti-racist training they recommended last year but could not require. The School Board must create a conflict-of-interest policy and form a 10-person community advisory board made up of public and non-public school parents. The School Board must give the monitors 72 hours advance notice of decisions on their agenda. The monitors will have approval authority over the selection of future superintendents.

This law aims to ensure that all students in the East Ramapo Central School District have access to the same educational resources as their neighbors; it will succeed only if we as a community stay informed, involved, and active.

While the change in the law is a significant victory for the public school community, we still must ensure that our students will be protected. In the future, the NYCLU will be planning and hosting workshops that educate community members about this issue, the new protections under state law, and how to continue fighting for students’ rights. And the NAACP will meet with the monitors, state officials, and school board members to stay on top of developments and be the voice of the East Ramapo public schools. They will be issuing a list of recommendations this fall, and will need your help to make sure they are heard.

Stay tuned for more information, and please share this email with your friends and family who want to get more involved.

Thank you for helping us protect the East Ramapo Central School District. 

2) An Unorthodox Education: Exclusive Screening

Wednesday July 28, 2021 at 7:00 PM

Join Yaffed for an exclusive virtual film screening of An Unorthodox Education to commemorate the six year anniversary of the 2015 complaint letter sent by yeshiva graduates and parents to NYC’s DOE and to mark another year of the City’s continued inaction.

Directed by Joe Kolman, this independent documentary-in-progress exposes a shocking truth– tens of thousands of children attend Hasidic yeshivas in New York that refuse to provide students with the legally-mandated general education they need to lead self-sufficient adult lives. Hear directly from former students and parents as they tell their striking stories for the very first time, illuminating the consequences of being denied instruction in subjects like English and math. Learn how New York City’s outgoing Mayor delayed reform efforts in return for political favors from the Ultra-Orthodox community, and how scientific ignorance led many in that community to protest COVID-19 safety protocols.

The 40 min. screening will be followed by a live Q&A featuring 4 panelists who appear in the film:

Register for the exclusive virtual screening here

3) Beyond The Wall

Beyond The Wall is an extensive art experience centering the Black and brown people of Spring Valley, New York. It features visual art work, live performances, poetry, dance and all art has to encompass. Through this experience, it is hoped that artists can find bliss in their expression and create community among their fellow artists.

More Information:


Today: Rally to Count Every Child

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Rally to Count Every Child

Hundreds of students in East Ramapo are ‘unaccounted for’. 

As reported by Sarah Wallace on NBC News, one of these students was the victim of horrific abuse during the period the child was absent and unaccounted for by the district.

Now, multiple community organizations from around Rockland and beyond are holding a rally calling for the district to prioritize accounting for all children.

Please join them!

Where: East Ramapo District Offices
105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley

When: Tuesday May 25 at 7:00 PM

Please RSVP that you are coming on the FaceBook Event Page

A letter asking East Ramapo to “prioritize locating and re-integrating every student who has been missing” was sent to the school board with copies to the Commissioner of Education and NY State elected officials.

This letter was signed by:

Proyecto Faro
Union de Padres
Rockland Immigration Coalition
Rockland Coalition to End the New Jim Crow
Filipinx Solidarity Collective
Tender Steps of New York
The Healing Station
Rockland United
Spring Valley NAACP Young Adult Committee
New York Civil Liberties Union
Voices of Rockland
Hazel N. Dukes, President of the New York State Conference of the NAACP

All of the signers and the organizers of the rally deserve our sincere respect and thanks! 

Action you can take NOW: Send an email to the school board c/o the District Clerk – (PLEASE COPY the NYS Monitor – and asking that East Ramapo prioritize locating and re-integrating every student who has been missing from school.  State whether you would like your letter to be read at the board meeting. If you can’t come to the rally in person, watch the school board meeting online at – click on “District Clerk Announcements” for the link.

Betrayal of Trust

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Betrayal of Trust
2. Next Year’s Budget
3. Budget Vote May 11

1) Betrayal of Trust

This week, reports were released by the NYS Education Department and the NYS Comptroller regarding East Ramapo.

These reports document East Ramapo’s flagrant violation of NY law and the Education Department’s failure to act on those violations.

    • According to the Comptrollers report “the Fiscal Monitor was unable to obtain timely responses from District officials to his information requests and was not provided access to the computerized financial systems until October 2020.”
    • However, according to NYS Law “The East Ramapo central school district shall fully cooperate with any monitor or monitors appointed by the commissioner, including but not limited to providing such monitor or monitors with access to any necessary documents and records of the district including access to electronic information systems, databases and planning documents”.

For seven months, from March 2020 to October 2020, the district was violating the law, and NYSED did not hold anyone accountable. 

    • According to NYSED Monitor Singer “Dr. Giamartino has been more transparent and collegial than the prior administration and has made financial and other related information readily available.”
    • However, if “the prior administration” was violating the law for seven months, why was nothing done at that time?  The district has “failed to produce documentation” required by the state many times. That’s a big part of why we have a monitor in the first place!

Had the public been made aware of the denied request, we would have put pressure to help our children. It’s nice for the monitor to praise Dr. Giamartino’s transparency, but what about NYSED’s transparency? Shouldn’t the parents know, after all they have been through, if the district is breaking the law again? Should we have to wait a whole year to find out after the fact?

Since we first wrote to Commissioner Mills in 2009, an entire generation of school children has been through this school system. No one trusts the school board, everyone can see they have their own mission which they are accomplishing. However, the Education Department has a legal obligation to every child in NY State. It is the repeated failure of NYSED to act which constitutes a betrayal of our trust.

2) Next Year’s Budget

According to the Monitor’s report: “The State enacted budget for the 2021-22 school year significantly increases State Aid for ERCSD. General State Aid increases by $40 million from $54 million to $94 million. Additionally, the District is anticipating receiving $66,418,114 in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds authorized under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act plus another $150,445,511 under the American Rescue Plan Act.”

What are the plans the district has made to use an extra $40 Million in State Aid? Will it restore all the positions that were cut a decade ago? Will class size return to levels equal to other Rockland schools? Will there be many new programs to deal with the complicated social issues that our families face? 

The Monitor’s report says the district will hire seven social workers, which is certainly welcome indeed! There will also be an extra $62,622 for Sports. It will also increase “options” for “extended” and “expanded” school year programs. This has been a common practice with the “prior administration”, touting options which are used by a few hundred students, while a large percentage of the student body of 9,000 is failing to acquire the needed skills to graduate. Offering extra options to students who don’t have basics is like buying dessert for a child who hasn’t had dinner. 

The rest of the $40 million is going where the school board always wants it to go: transportation to private schools, special education in private schools, and tax relief. 

In short, the Education Department, monitors and all, is ready to approve another plan that will provide a small piece of cake for our education hungry families, and hoping we won’t complain the school board has eaten the whole dinner. It seems that no matter how much is put on the table, and how many eyes are watching, the story will remain the same until they lose their seat at the table. 

3) Budget Vote May 11

If you are registered to vote in East Ramapo, you should have gotten a card with your new polling place for the budget vote today, May 11, 2021. Despite the fact that the budget does not include all we would want and what the students need, if the budget fails it will be even worse. Please take a few minutes to go to your assigned polling place and vote YES for the budget. 


Hundreds of Missing Children in East Ramapo

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Stop Rationalizing Child Neglect
2. Hundreds of Missing Children
3. Spring Valley NAACP Supports Expanding Power of East Ramapo Monitors

1) Stop Rationalizing Child Neglect

“Every month or year that change is delayed, another student will finish school or move to the next grade level while missing the fundamentals of math, science, English and social studies.”

“Then why have elected officials, political candidates, community leaders and media outlets treated this as a policy issue that is worthy of debate from both sides — and not an issue of undeniable educational neglect to be remedied through forceful government action?”

These statements are from an op-ed written by a yeshiva parent in the NY Daily News. That they could apply equally to public and private school systems in East Ramapo illustrates how the fates of all our children are intertwined. 

The low graduation rates in both systems are the direct result of political pandering that gives undue influence to a system and leaders that cause harm to children through educational neglect.

Please join Yaffed in calling for No More Delays in oversight of children’s right to an education.

2) Hundreds of Missing Children

According to The Washington Post: “This year, students have disappeared from classes in unprecedented numbers, forcing districts to rethink their approach to those who stop showing up. Many districts, cognizant of the damage that lost school time can cause, have employed extraordinary efforts to track down students to ensure that they are safe and have devices to learn.”

A study by Bellweather Education “Missing in the Margins”, found that: “For approximately 3 million of the most educationally marginalized students in the country, March might have been the last time they experienced any formal education — virtual or in-person.

The response from school districts across the country has been varied. One thing that seems to work is physically going to the students homes to see what’s going on. This was the response last school year in Sacramento City CA, where 1600 students failed to check in in March of 2020. According to The Post “The district jumped into action, dispatching staff members to students’ homes”. By summer, just 845 students were missing. And by the start of the school year, only nine remained unreachable.

Here in East Ramapo, hundreds of children have not had any formal education for over a year. An attendance task force that was set up is doing some door to door outreach, but the effort was started almost a year late, and not near enough staff are doing the work.

In October, we learned that many students had not been provided with a laptop, and Superintendent Giamartino moved quickly to correct that, but according to the report from Bellweather: “the students we’re focusing on here need much more than a laptop.” They list a variety of issues including students needing to go to work, lack of options for English language learners and students with disabilities, homelessness, and most disturbingly, child abuse.

There needs to be immediate action to locate as many of these children as possible. Experience shows that outreach works. But most importantly, there needs to be accountability for those responsible. Where were the state monitors while this was happening? The issue of  missing children has been in the headlines for a year now. Did any representative of NYSED ever ask what East Ramapo was doing to address the issue? If a parent neglects their child, they face jail time, when a school board neglects hundreds, they should be held accountable in the same way.

3) Spring Valley NAACP Supports Expanding Power of East Ramapo Monitors

I am writing on behalf of the Spring Valley NAACP to endorse A 5683/S 6052, a bill to expand the powers and responsibilities of the oversight monitors assigned to the East Ramapo Central School District sponsored by Assemblyman Zebrowski and Senator Reichlin-Melnick. The bill has received the backing of NY State Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa.

The NAACP is mindful the legislation does not address the long-term governance reform imperative for the District’s long-term survival. However, it does provide a sorely needed system of checks and balances, the absence of which has created a model of 21st Century Jim Crow (racist) education in East Ramapo.

The Bill will empower monitors to:

    • prevent the Board from implementing proposals not be in the interest of East Ramapo’s public-school students,
    • approve or disapprove the appointment of the superintendent,
    • review and amend the District’s budget to assure the District’s spending aligns with long-term academic and fiscal goals;
    • review Board resolutions and motions prior to presentation to the Board.

The legislation also requires the Board to a adopt conflict-of-interest policy. Had such a policy been in place already, it could have prevented the Board’s approving a $15 million contract (against the request by the current monitors who do not have oversight power) to an organization whose executive director have been covertly controlling the selection of East Ramapo Board members.

The legislation represents an interim but essential step — toward more substantive governance reform — in the struggle to end East Ramapo’s 21st Century Jim Crow education.

Willie J. Trotman, President, Spring Valley NAACP







The Case for an East Ramapo Receivership

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Getting to Know your Neighbors
2. Budget Roller Coaster Ride
3. The Case for an East Ramapo Receivership

1) Getting to Know your Neighbors

“To people on the outside, the religious Jewish world can appear monolithic. Black hats and long beards have come to represent a way of life that follows specific rules very separate from those within secular society. But the truth is, there are many different levels of observance and affiliations within the religious Jewish community. To understand the role of education in this multifaceted Jewish world, it’s important to have a firm grasp of the nuances among the different communities.”

Read this fascinating and informative report from Yaffed, and get to know your Jewish neighbors better!

2) Budget Roller Coaster Ride

Funding for East Ramapo’s school programs has been on one crazy roller coaster ride this year. Here’s the turn-by-turn:

  • April 2020: NY State cut East Ramapo’s aid by $15 million, in proportion to the $15 million that the federal government gave to East Ramapo’s yeshivas. Somewhere along the line, NY State did not understand that these are not the same thing.
  • August 2020: When the $15 million was brought up at a school board meeting, there was action to spend the money in the yeshivas, and an RFP was written, but no one, not a single board member, not the monitors – NO ONE – asked what cuts would be made to the public programs! And, indeed, even the new interim superintendent was not made aware of this cut to the public school budget when he came onboard in September.
  • February 2021: It was not until Dr. Giamartino conducted his own audit that it was discovered that this was only one of several budget miscalculations that left the district $30 million in the red, and it was announced they would have to make layoffs or risk not being able to make payroll.
  • March 2021: Somehow money was borrowed to avert the worst of the layoffs. The monitors said the shortfall “was known in July“, but gave no explanation why they didn’t speak up then.
  • March 2021: It is reported that East Ramapo will receive a large amount in COVID relief funds, perhaps $162 million or more. 
  • April 2021: NY State has announced it will finally fully fund the CFE Aid. This is money owed to districts by NY State from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, filed by parents against the State of New York. This will mean many millions more for East Ramapo public school programs.

How will East Ramapo recover from the pandemic? Will the funds be used wisely to provide the kinds of programs that the students need? 

The district will hold a series of presentations, starting on April 12. They don’t give out the address in advance, so Power of Ten is unable to provide a link here. You have to go to the district website the day of the event to find the link.

3) The Case for an East Ramapo Receivership

We’re in the seventh year of the state takeover of East Ramapo.  What do I mean by that?  Really, the state doesn’t need to “take over” our district because it already oversees it—and always has. It’s the state that bears the legal responsibility to ensure our children’s education. Whatever authority local educational authorities have was granted by the state, to which they are answerable. 

Eight years ago it became obvious to all that the school board—the majority of whose members send their children to private schools–was acting against the interests of the school district they oversee, and the state education department (NYSED) was neglecting their duty to the children.

Here are the salient facts:

  1. They used public money to pay for tuition in private schools. They tried to use the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act) to camouflage this diversion of tax dollars to all-white private schools, but state authorities should have seen it for what it was: embezzlement, plain and simple. The state education department (NYSED) should have referred the matter to the NYS attorney general’s office for prosecution, instead they provided the board with a “corrective action plan.”
  2. They transferred ownership of public-school properties to private-school entities. They submitted a fraudulent appraisal to NYSED in defense of the sale price. NYSED annulled the sale but failed to recognize or report the crime that had been committed. Later, local activists reported the crime to the attorney general’s office resulting in a criminal conviction of the appraiser.

It’s as if a child’s parents decided the babysitter was the final authority in parenting matters, and that their role was purely advisory.

Due to public outcry at the harm done to public-school children by the board, pressure was growing for New York State to take over the school district.  Governor Cuomo and Chancellor Tisch made the decision to intervene in East Ramapo but their plan for a new governance system in East Ramapo was, to put it bluntly, bizarre.  They proposed a power-sharing arrangement in which New York State would abandon its obligation to the children and instead serve only as adviser to the school board, an entity whose powers, again, derive entirely from the state.  A helpful analogy: it’s as if a child’s parents decided the babysitter was the final authority in parenting matters, and that their role was purely advisory.

This power-sharing arrangement would prove to be the worst of all possible state takeover plans.

  1. The first “fiscal monitor” appointed by Governor Cuomo and Chancellor Tisch was Hank Greenberg, a former subordinate of Governor Cuomo. While Mr. Greenberg served as the state’s representative, the two schools whose sale had been blocked by local activists were sold again at pennies on the dollar.  Greenberg then provided the first of a series of “monitor’s reports” justifying the state’s continued power-sharing arrangement.
  2. While supposedly under continuous monitoring from NYSED, the school board ignored the failed budget vote of 2020, overspent their legal budget by millions of dollars, and failed to correct the budget to account for Governor Cuomo’s transfer of $15 million from public school aid to private school aid (The governor cut state funds in equal amount to federal COVID relief funds, but the $15 million of the federal funds were earmarked for private schools, so the effect was a transfer from the public to the private). This resulted in a fiscal disaster in which the district became insolvent and needed to borrow funds to meet the payroll.

Clearly, the power-sharing system imposed by the state takeover ordered by Governor Cuomo in 2014 has been a failure for the children of the district.  On the other hand, it has been a great success for the school board whose real mission—as opposed to the one its members swore to uphold upon taking office–was to transfer public funds and public property into private hands.

Governor Cuomo deserves the lion’s share of the blame.  NYSED is certainly a close second. These are the entities that have both the power and the obligation to provide an education to New York’s children; both have failed miserably, and it is the children of the East Ramapo public-school district, many of them low-income, most of them people of color, who have suffered, their schools sold off to private schools, their district budget gutted, their programs slashed, their teachers laid off.

Local activists have called for the removal of the school board and the direct management and funding of the district until an alternative system can be put in place. Yet, up to now, New York State has offered little more than “oversight, guidance, and technical assistance”. Local activists have done all the heavy lifting. 

Repeated requests from activists have been ignored, including a lengthy position paper written by former board members and superintendents (including Mimi Calhoun, Suzanne Young-Mercer, Oscar Cohen, Judith Johnson, Jason Friedman and Constance Frazier) sent to the “fiscal monitor” Hank Greenberg, recommending that the state implement a Receivership model for the district.

With a deluge of new state and federal money coming in, there is the potential that more fiscal shenanigans will be hidden in the flood. More marginal improvement will be used as cover for continued diversion of resources from public schools that serve children of color to all-white private schools. The school board majority has shown that they will do everything in their power to achieve this. The question is “why do they still have have any power at all?”


Call to Action! NY Must Intervene in East Ramapo!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. NYSED asks for Comptroller Audit of East Ramapo
2. NYCLU calls for State Intervention
3. Message from Trustee Anderson

1) NYSED asks for Comptroller Audit of East Ramapo

According to The Journal News, state monitors say the district is as much as $30 million in the red and will not be able to meet payroll expenses for the year.

This apparently caught the monitors by surprise, and was only uncovered by the recently hired interim superintendent.

The monitors are now calling for the state Comptroller to immediately examine the district’s finances.

2) NYCLU calls for State Intervention

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is calling on NYSED and Gov. Cuomo to “truly intervene” in East Ramapo.

They call for the state to “remove anyone who failed to meet their educational obligations to students.”

They have developed an online petition.


The executive director of NYCLU, and the president of the Spring Valley NAACP, have written a joint op-ed for the Journal News, calling out the school board for enacting “21st-century Jim Crow education” in East Ramapo. 

Will NY State continue to ignore the plight of the children in East Ramapo? It’s up to US to demand action! SIGN AND SHARE TODAY!

3) Message from Trustee Anderson

This is just a reminder to all to please tune in on YouTube to the ER School Board Meeting on Tuesday at 7:30pm.  I didn’t win a seat on the board, but I did well for Wesley Hills with 759 votes.  My not winning will not stop my advocacy for the public school children of ER.

The children of ER need all of our support more than ever.  ER is in a severe financial crisis!  Dr. Giamartino discovered the problem after using his skill set to examine the books.  Dr. G only has been in the position since September 2020.  He inherited the mess!  The situation is so dire that there isn’t enough money to pay teachers to June.  Cuts to layoff 30 teachers have been proposed.  Constant voting down school budgets, mishandling of finances, hiring of high price attorneys, not settling voting rights lawsuit and bad decision making are some of the causes that have placed the district in this crisis.  A campaign is being launched by NYCLU for community members to write SED Commissioner Rosa, Governor Cuomo, and leaders of the Assembly and Senate requesting immediate State invention.

Please listen in on YouTube to how the board is addressing the problem?  Dr. G has the skill set to solve the problem so let us support him.  Please listen in to how he would like to solve the problem.




Act Now to Stop Teacher Cuts

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Election Results
2. A Fifteen Million Dollar Question
3. East Ramapo is Insolvent

1) Election Results

We are very happy to report that our candidates in wards 1,2 and 3 have all won their races and will be sworn in at the next school board meeting on March 2.

They are:

  • Ward 1 – Ashley Leveille
  • Ward 2 – Sabrina Charles-Pierre
  • Ward 3 – Sherry McGill

These are the three wards which were drawn up to provide equal representation for voters of color in East Ramapo. Thanks to the NAACP-NYCLU, there are now three members of the school board who will be held accountable by people who use the public schools for their children.

There were also two well-qualified candidates who ran in other districts, Carole Anderson in ward 9 and Linda Valentine in ward 4. They deserve our thanks and respect for all their hard work. 

2) A Fifteen Million Dollar Question

Last year, the federal government passed the CARES Act, a COVID relief bill which included billions of dollars for schools. The money is distributed through the states, and then on to the schools. When NY State passed its budget on April 1, 2020, it reduced state aid in an equal amount. For any other district, this would have been an even trade, but of course not for East Ramapo. The federal CARES Act funds are targeted to include private schools, but the state funds that it replaced were mostly for public schools. The net result is a movement of $15 million from the public schools to private schools. This apparently was not understood by the district, and Interim Superintendent Giamartino has now issued a statement that “internal reviews” have “discovered a series of long-standing underfunded budget codes” “in conjunction with state aid losses”. 

The board, which seemed not to take notice that public schools had just lost $15 million, did however notice that $15 million was now going to be available for private schools, and issued a notice  seeking bids. The board awarded a $15 million contract to the Community Outreach Center (COC). The CEO of the COC is Rabbi Hersh Horowitz, whose name came up in the Voting Rights trial as one of the key players in the slating process that selects the board members. Also revealed in the trial, Rabbi Horowitz told school board president Grossman “We are focusing mostly on English … So when superintendent comes to visit she will be able to communicate with the students”. So, while actually educating the students in these private schools does not seem to be a high priority in getting a multi-million dollar contract, being one of the guys that’s coordinating political support for board members seems to be quite helpful.

An appeal has been filed with the commissioner to void the contract. All of the details are available in this Journal News Exclusive: NYCLU wants state Education Department to void $15M East Ramapo schools contract

3) East Ramapo is Insolvent

It has now become clear that the school board has failed to perform their fiduciary duties, including:

  • Not making the proper budgetary adjustments for the contingent budget
  • Not budgeting adequately to include the legal costs associated with their ill-conceived attempt to preserve a racist voting system
  • Not recognizing that the public school budget was shorted by $15 million in state aid

As a result the district is now insolvent. It has run out of money in the middle of the school year, and is taking drastic measures that are hurting students, parents, and teachers.

Dr. Giamartino has already cut 4 assistant superintendent positions, cancelled 2.3 million in contracts, and is now proceeding to lay off 32 teachers. This will mean disruptions to children’s lives –  not just their educational experience in the middle of the school year but also their emotional support network in the middle of the pandemic. In any district, this would be a challenge, but in East Ramapo, which has already seen hundreds of staff cuts, it is catastrophic. 

The children should not have to pay for the board’s failures!

Many people and organizations are writing to the state education department and their elected officials. They are asking that something be done, so that teacher layoffs will not happen.  

Power of Ten has created an online letter you can send with one click, asking the Commissioner of Education to stop the cuts, and hold the board accountable for failing their fiduciary duty.

Special Edition: Community Meeting This Wednesday

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Community Meeting This Wednesday

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is taking on “21st Century Jim Crow Education” in East Ramapo.

Last week, together with the Spring Valley NAACP, they delivered a letter with more than 1500 signatures to the State Education Commissioner urging her to take immediate action to stop the ongoing civil rights violations in the East Ramapo Central School District.

Now they are hosting a virtual community meeting to discuss the next steps to restore public education in the district, and YOU are invited to participate.

The meeting will be in both English and Spanish.

The Details:
Wednesday, February 10, 6 p.m.
Link to join the Zoom meeting:

Meeting ID: 891 1418 3895
One tap mobile
+16465588656,,89114183895# US (New York)
+13126266799,,89114183895# US (Chicago)

Speakers at the forum will include:
Willie Trotman, President of the Spring Valley NAACP .
Dr. Oscar Cohen, Education Chair of the Spring Valley NAACP.
Sri Nath Kurup, sophomore at Ramapo High School and NYCLU Student Ambassador


Board Will Punish Children for Parents Asserting Their Rights

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Board Will Punish Children for Parents Asserting Their Rights
2. Power of Ten Publisher Featured in Podcast
3. Abidjan Principles Video Series
4. School Board Election Deadline is February 2

1) Board Will Punish Children for Parents Asserting Their Rights

As reported in The Rockland County Times, the East Ramapo school board has announced that their unethical appropriation of education funds will result in program cuts. At the time that they decided to embark on this ill-advised venture, they chose to take actions that they knew would harm children. Now that they have lost in court, they are attempting to shift the blame to the victims of the school board’s illegal schemes.

2) Power of Ten Publisher Featured in Podcast

The UnEducated Podcast is a production of Young Advocates for Fair Education. Listen in to hear a little interesting background from Power of Ten publisher, Steven White.

3) Abidjan Principles Video Series

The Abidjan Principles is the international reference text on the right to education. They compile and interpret existing human rights law and standards to provide guidance on the State’s obligation to: provide free, public education of the highest attainable quality; regulate private involvement; and fund quality public education, in particular in the context of the rapid expansion of private sector involvement in education. 

Power of Ten is featuring new videos by The Abidjan Principles group on our homepage.

4) School Board Election Deadline is February 2

If you are a voter in East Ramapo, you should have already received your ballot in the mail. If you have not, please call the district clerk at 845-577-6015.

The deadline to return your ballot is February 2. Information on our candidates is available here.



Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Vote!

This is a special message for Power of Ten readers who are registered voters in East Ramapo.

Every voter should have received a ballot in the mail by now. If you have not received a ballot, you should notify the district clerk right away.

You can only vote for ONE candidate! 


WARD 1: Ashley Leveille
WARD 2: Sabrina Charles Pierre
WARD 3: Sherry McGill
WARD 4: Linda Valentine (write in)
WARD 9: Carole Anderson

Your ballot will have your ward number on it. Darken ONLY the circle for the ONE of our candidates that is running for your ward.

For Ward 4, you will need to darken the circle for “write-in” and write the name in.

If you do not live in one of these wards, you may want to write in another name.

The ballot comes with a postage paid envelope and instructions. Please follow the instructions and return your ballot ASAP. There is also a box for ballots at the district. Instructions are provided for that as well.

Candidates are also accepting help with phone calls, etc.

You can volunteer or donate on their website:


Phone Bank Opportunity

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Phone Bank Opportunity
2. Candidate’s Forum
3. Petition Albany for Justice

1) Phone Bank Opportunity

YOU can now help spread the word about our wonderful candidates by participating in one of the phone banks they have set up!

Please sign up to participate here

2) Candidate’s Forum

The Spring Valley Branch of the NAACP is hosting a forum for you to learn about the candidates running for the East Ramapo school board.

The forum will be via Zoom, on January 11 at 7:00 PM.

Here is the Zoom link:

3) Petition Albany for Justice

The petition to Albany for Justice in East Ramapo is still open!

You can sign it here:


Your Signature Needed: New Oversight Letter to NYSED

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. School Board Loses in Court Again!
2. Your Signature Needed: New Oversight Letter to NYSED
3. Ballots Are Arriving
4. Write-in Linda Valentine in Ward 4

1) School Board Loses in Court Again!

Once again, a court of law has found that the East Ramapo school board majority has acted in bad faith, enacting policies that favor the private-school community at the cost of harming the quality of education for public school students. 

Read all about it in The Journal News: Appeals court back backs NAACP in East Ramapo voting rights challenge

2) Your Signature Needed: New Oversight Letter to NYSED

We first wrote to the State Education Department (NYSED) asking them to intervene in East Ramapo back in 2009. We cited “a pattern of racial segregation in school attendance and race-based neglect of educational opportunities” that “violates the democratic principle of governance with the consent of the governed.”

Through all of the many dozens of findings by courts, monitors, state and federal agencies, the board has never wavered from its racially biased policies. Children who entered Kindergarten in the 2008-9 school year will have spent their entire educational experience under this system of 21st Century Jim Crow. Far too many exit with crushed hopes and no diploma. All this while, the State Education Department has stood by, writing reports and wringing their hands. We now have a new message for NYSED, and for our elected officials: We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. No more reports. No more “monitoring”. It’s time to act.

NAACP Spring Valley Chapter, in partnership with the NYCLU, has written a letter to the Commissioner of Education, asking for a meeting to discuss more direct involvement. Our elected representatives in Albany are copied.

They would like YOU to sign on to this letter!

Please act swiftly, sign, and share.

3) Ballots Are Arriving

Many voters have gotten their ballots already. It’s very important that you follow the directions included with the ballot carefully. 

If you are in Wards 1,2,3 or 9, you will see the name of one of our East Ramapo Together candidates.

Please visit for all the details.

4) Write-in Linda Valentine in Ward 4

Many readers have written in asking if there are not any other choices in their wards. Those in Ward 4 (Chestnut Ridge area) now have an alternative:

To my community of Chestnut Ridge and Ward 4.  My name is Linda Valentine and I am a candidate for the East Ramapo Central School District Board.

I have been a resident of Chestnut Ridge for 25 years and I have taught in schools districts in New York City so I understand the value of public education for all student.  My Master’s Degree in Social Work provides me with the knowledge needed to apply compassion to the challenges students and family face particularly during this pandemic. I have worked in the court system and in law enforcement and have seen firsthand the tragic results of policies that inhabit learning and the results.

But most important, I am the mother of four children who grew up in Chestnut Ridge.  My two youngest attended the East Ramapo school district and I am the proud grandmother with six grandchildren of which two attended Summit and Kakiat.

I am a 36 year member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority whose mission includes an educational focus and service to mankind. Also as a member of the Order of the Eastern Stars here in Rockland, I have a heart for community service. My church is St. Paul’s AME Zion in Spring Valley.

My personal story, I was in a serious accident five years ago where I was paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors said I would never walk again however my faith in God, my husband Grant Valentine, my children and friends, I am walking again. So I understand the struggles students have who are underserved, denied resources and the feeling of neglect by institutions. I want the students to know there is a voice on the East Ramapo school board who will speak for them. For the parents in East Ramapo, know I will do whatever I can for our students and I am part of the community you can believe in.

It does not matter your race, religion or zip code every student has a right to achieve their potential with a solid public education.

There is no shortage of solutions just a shortage of courage and my plan is as follows:

    1. To ensure the East Ramapo students are prepared for the digital economy with the understanding of technology and the tool for success
    2. Increase academic growth for students who come from non-traditional families
    3. To Focus on restorative justice to reduce out of classroom time
    4. To track special education students into inclusion opportunities in all grades and

Continually assess equity gaps and goals.

I will need your help as a write-in candidate so please:  LINDA VALENTINE

A New Era of Involvement

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. A New Era of Involvement
2. Message from Trustee Anderson
3. Board of Ed Meeting Tuesday

1) A New Era of Involvement

The historic victory of the NAACP and NYCLU in their landmark civil rights case against the East Ramapo school board has ended the school board’s racist practice of voter dilution which was disenfranchising thousands of Black and Latinx voters. The student body of East Ramapo is now 95% Latino and Black, so this change will result in the parents of public school students finally having some power at the polls.

However, the decision to use a ward system to elect board members also means changes for voters who don’t live in one of the three wards in which voters of color are a majority. Just like voters in wards 1-3, voters in wards 4-9 will now know who is their person on the board, and will be able to watch their performance at meetings, contact them with concerns, and hold them accountable with their votes. This may usher in a new era of community involvement in how our school system is run.

Just as in previous years, a group of candidates has come together based on a mission of improving the quality of education. You can learn about who they are and what they stand for on their website:

If you are not in a ward where one of these candidates is running, it might be difficult to know what to do when your ballot arrives. Some of the candidates on those ballots are those who opposed the ward system, who approved millions of dollars in wasteful spending on frivolous lawsuits, who voted to sell district property at pennies on the dollar, who have never asked a question in a board meeting about graduation rates, class size, test scores, or any other educational issue. If you find yourself represented by someone like that, do not despair! You can still write about your concerns to the board member, and copy the superintendent, the state education dept., and your representatives in Albany. Even if the board member is unopposed, you can still use the option to write-in on the ballot. This is the only time all nine board members will be elected at once, starting with the next election in 2022 they will return to rotating three seats per year.

2) Message from Trustee Anderson

I want to thank you for so many things that I don’t know where to start?  For many of you I wish to thank you for reaching out to me to tell me how you appreciated me telling my story about my high school experience with geometry.  The great thing about that is you saw the importance of supporting our public school children.  I was lucky because I had my mom and grandmother to support me, but our kids are now having the benefit of an army to support them.  According to YouTube, 233 persons tuned in to the last Board meeting and that was because of your pushing friends, family, and neighbors to tune in.  Please keep up the good work because we can’t let our children down.  Please try to increase that number of 233.  Only by our being informed by the actions of the Board will we be able to put pressure on them to make decisions that are beneficial to our Black and Brown children.  Please keep in mind that our children need us!

There is a very important vote for ERCSD trustees on February 2nd.  All nine seats are up.  Thanks to the NAACP, NYCLU, and Latham and Watkins there will be a Ward vote.  You will be able to choose the person you feel who best represents your Ward?  This is an all mail vote.  You should receive your ballot by the middle of the month.  Please mark your ballot and mail it back immediately.  If you live in these Wards please vote for these candidates:

    • Ward 1  Ashley Leveille
    • Ward 2 Sabrina Charles Pierre
    • Ward 3 Sherry McGill
    • Ward 9 Carole Anderson

Happy New Year!



Silence is not an option.

Silence is complicity.

Change only comes when people stand up to demand it.

3) Board of Ed Meeting Tuesday

As Trustee Anderson has explained, it is important to attend the board meetings, currently being held virtually on YouTube due to the pandemic.

The next meeting is this Tuesday, January 5 at 7:30 PM.

Directions for YouTube:

Go to ERCSD Homepage.

Click on District Clerk.

Click on Announcements.

First line states:  “Click here for YouTube.”