Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. School Board Loses in Court AGAIN!
2. Updated Voting Info
3. COVID Testing Site in Spring Valley
1) School Board Loses in Court AGAIN!
In perhaps the most unsurprising legal decision in history, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has denied the school board’s request for a ‘stay’ of the decision of U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel’s ruling ordering a ward system for school board elections. The Court of Appeals found that the “district has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of the appeal”.
This is just the latest in a long series of legal misadventures that our rogue school board has embarked on since they abruptly switched from their competent and long-serving local law firm of Greenberg Wanderman & Fromson. The Nanuet based firm was charging a very reasonable $120/hr, and had an impeccable record for the district. Giving no reason, other than his own uninhibited power to do whatever he pleased, school board member Aron Wieder and his bloc vote on the board removed this competent and respectable law firm and replaced them with the very expensive and controversial firm of Miranda and D’Agostino. During their tenure in East Ramapo, they would add “infamous” to that CV, as they repeatedly and aggressively accosted school children and parents, without a single word of reprimand from the board until one lawyer was caught on camera and it went VIRAL.(warning: video of school board lawyer contains language some may deem unsuitable for children).
At that time, the legal shenanigans were focused on abusing the interpretation of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act) in order to funnel more public dollars into the private religious schools favored by the board members. The board wanted a lawyer who would settle the cases that Fromson had been winning. Another counsel which had been approached by the board to do this work responded that “…it is our opinion that a board of education’s directive to place a child in a setting contrary to that proposed by a district’s CSE (Committee on Special Education) … may rise to the level of an inappropriate gift of public monies.”
The board went ahead with their plan anyway, and received several strong warnings from the NY State Education Dept. (NYSED). The board then sued NYSED (and lost) and appealed (and lost). All of the costs of these legal actions came at the expense of programs and services for the children in public schools. Do these actions give the appearance that the members of the public school board are putting the interests of private religious schools first? You don’t have to take my word for it, according to their own lawyer they “have never denied” that they “emphasize” services for the private schools.
Despite the overwhelming evidence and record that the massive increase in legal costs were the direct result of the school board’s own reckless disregard for the public funds they are entrusted with, they continue to blame everything on the public school parents who have tried to hold them accountable. The truth is they have even sued their own insurance company. In that case, the judge found that the district had been overcharged millions of dollars by their high priced lawyers.
In the most recent case, once again, serious questions were raised, even by the judge, about whether the school board was being reckless with the children’s education funds in pursuit of the fleeting phantoms of their own imaginary righteousness. In short, they unreasonably denied the repeated requests by civil liberties and civil rights groups to address the longstanding and exhaustively documented inequities in their election process. At every step, they were offered a less expensive way to solve the problem. At every step, and quite ironically, they excluded board members of color in forming their answer that ‘no, we don’t exclude people of color’. Given that the next steps will again involve raiding the funds for programs for children in public school, with no impact on the services for the private schools that most board members “emphasize”, and given that the appeals court itself has questioned the likelihood of success, the question must be asked: “Has the East Ramapo school board now stepped over a line, where they have so far abandoned their duty to the public good that they should be removed from office?”
2) Updated Voting Info
Many people have never gotten a ballot. If you have not received one, please contact the district clerk. If you have not yet mailed your ballot, the district is now putting out boxes for ballots. Since ballots received by mail after 5 PM on June 9 will not be counted, it may be wise to use the box rather than take a chance on sending by mail.
Please visit the district clerk’s web page for details (I am purposely NOT giving details here because they change faster than I can keep up).
3) COVID Testing Site in Spring Valley
The Martin Luther King Center is hosting a free COVID testing program. From June 1 through June 12, Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM at the center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley. Call 833-422-7369 to make an appointment.