Rockland Clergy for Social Justice Calls for Gov. Cuomo to Intervene in East Ramapo

Power of Ten Update

Special Issue:

Rockland Clergy for Social Justice will hold a press conference on Tuesday, April 8 at noon, at the First Baptist Church located at 3 Hoyt Street in Spring Valley, NY. More than 90 rabbis, ministers, pastors and imams from Rockland County will be calling for Gov. Cuomo to intervene in the governance of the East Ramapo School District.

Speakers will include Rev. Weldon McWilliams IV, PhD of the First Baptist Church in Spring Valley; Rabbi Adam Baldachin of the Montebello Jewish Center; Rabbi Ari Hart of Uri L’Tzedek (Orthodox Social Justice); Pastor Joel Michel of the French Speaking Baptist Church in Spring Valley, and Azeem Farooki of the Islamic Center of Rockland.

The East Ramapo Central School District board has reduced services to students, most of whom are African-American, Haitian American and Hispanic. According to Pastor Joel Michel of the French Speaking Baptist Church Spring Valley: “The lives of our children are in peril. East Ramapo public school governance is broken. We need Governor Cuomo to address this tragedy now.”

The school board is under investigation for diverting public funds to segregated religious schools. To Hazel N. Dukes, President, New York State Conference NAACP, it is a matter of equal treatment for all.  She says “It is time for Governor Cuomo to act on behalf of East Ramapo public school children ensuring their right to an appropriate New York State education comparable to their peers in other Rockland County school districts”

The East Ramapo board has ignored NY State Education Department directives concerning its improper practices in violation of NY State and Federal law. Rabbi Adam Baldachin of the Montebello Jewish Center framed the issue as a moral obligation: “We believe that all of our children have the right to an educational experience which sets them up for a successful future. It is upon us as clergy members to make sure that this moral right is granted. We cannot be silent while students in the East Ramapo School District are denied the right to thrive”.

The East Ramapo board members are often identified in the media by their Orthodox Jewish religion, but in fact they are mostly businessmen involved in real estate (as reported by the Journal News).  Rabbi Ari Hart, co-founder of Uri L’Tzedek, (Orthodox Social Justice) explains that in the Jewish religious tradition “We are deeply concerned about the well-being of all children, from all religious, races and cultures in Rockland County. That is why we are calling on Governor Cuomo to intervene and help make a better Rockland County school system for all.”