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: https://www.nyclu.org/en/publications/private-privilege-public-pain-2021

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: https://action.aclu.org/petition/ny-eramapo-petition