- Attorney general probing East Ramapo real estate dealings
- Notice of Non-compliance from NY State Education Dept.
- East Ramapo Underground Radio is back!
- Town Hall Meeting at CEJJES Institute
- Budget vote on June 19
- Message from the editor
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.
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.
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-hostsPeggy Hatton & Antonio Luciano
Saturday, June 30, 2012 6:00 PMThe CEJJES Institute5 Cooper Morris Drive Pomona, NY
Donation requested Adults $5 Students FreeWhat 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
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.
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