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

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