State Ed Coming Thursday; New Lawsuit asks to Recoup Millions

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. State Education Department Announcement
2. New Lawsuit to Recoup Millions
3. Your Help Needed

1) State Education Department Announcement

Education Commissioner Elia and Chancellor Tisch will be visiting RCC  on Thursday at 1:30 PM to make a major announcement about the state’s plan to address the needs of East Ramapo. Please make every effort to attend so we can fill that room and demonstrate our commitment to quality public education.

Sign up on Facebook (don’t forget to invite all your FB friends):

2) New Lawsuit to Recoup Millions

Advocates for Justice has filed a new lawsuit on behalf of East Ramapo taxpayers and parents seeking to recoup excessive legal fees paid by the school board. As reported in the last update, NY Supreme Court Justice Bucaria found that the school board had overpaid lawyers in one case by over $2 million. Advocates for Justice seeks to recoup that money for the district and prevent the board from further excessive legal spending. Also, A4J has filed an appeal with the Commissioner of Education asking that the school board members be removed for violation of their fiduciary duty. 

School board members in NY are required to exercise the degree of diligence, care, and skill in handling the district’s money that an ordinary prudent individual would use in handling their own personal finances. In the case decided by Judge Bucaria, he said the board spent $2.2 million for legal fees when a reasonable amount would have been $187 thousand. Clearly they were not prudent, not careful, and spent an extraordinary amount of money. The judge’s findings echo the findings of Fiscal Monitor Greenberg. They confirm the initial reaction of parents when they heard about the outrageous legal fees agreed to by the school board.

However, Judge Bucaria was only looking at expenses for one lawsuit. The board has spent millions more fighting dubious lawsuits. These expenses are a major factor in the poor financial condition of the district. The following is a partial list of expensive and disastrous suits begun by the school board:

  • Sued the State Education Department to prevent them from blocking the board’s policy of paying private tuition with public money.
  • Appealed the decision of the NY Supreme Court when they lost that case.
  • Sued the NY Attorney General’s Office to prevent them from accessing records related to the sale of Hillcrest Elementary using a false instrument (an appraisal).
  • Violated the contract of former superintendent Outstacher and had to pay his legal fees.
  • Sued their own insurance company that declined coverage for board members’ conduct.

What other board can you imagine that would actually try to prevent a law enforcement agency from investigating a potential fraud against the corporation that they are entrusted with governing? Can you imagine if the East Ramapo board all ‘owned stock’ in the corporation they govern, would they behave this way? Have they been acting as if guarding the finances of the district was guarding their own personal finances? Or have they abused their power and betraying their oath?

We think it is time for a judge to decide. 

3) Your Help Needed

 Advocates for Justice is a public interest, not-for-profit law firm. They are not charging for the work they do. There is no contract with plaintiffs for payment when the case is decided. There is no charge to the plaintiffs for the work they do, period.

Your  donations are what makes this possible. That the victims have a voice, that they get their day in court, that our system of justice functions not only for those with the money. 

Donations are tax deductible. They can be spread out into monthly payments. They are what sustains the avenue of legal recourse for our families. Please take a moment now to support those who fight for our children, who fight for their right to a sound basic education.

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