Demand Better Leadership

The Power of Ten

Special Edition: Call to Action

If there is one person who is most responsible for the degradation of East Ramapo, it is Aron Wieder. In Nov, 2009, Aron Wieder brought Al D’Agostino to East Ramapo. In June of 2011, the school board majority, led by Aron Wieder chose Dr. Joel Klein  for Superintendent of schools. 

Last year, the majority of the Democrats in the Rockland County Legislature supported the oversight bill offered by Assembly members Jaffee and Zebrowski and Senator Carlucci. Mr. Wieder, as the leader of the Democratic majority, should have carried their message to Albany. Instead, he spearheaded the effort to block the legislation.

The Rockland County Legislature Democrats should not allow Mr. Wieder to continue in a leadership role. His record as Majority Leader is inconsistent with Democratic Party values. He put his own opinions ahead of his duty to his fellow legislators.

There are three Democratic Rockland County Legislators who supported the legislation for a monitor in East Ramapo but have not yet indicated if they will oppose a re-nomination of Mr. Wieder. They are Toney Earl, Aney Paul, and Alden Wolfe.

Please call the Legislature at 845-638-5100 and ask to speak to Toney Earl, Aney Paul, and Alden Wolfe. You may be directed to their constituent representatives.

Leave a message:

Thank you for continuing to support strong oversight for East Ramapo. I am calling to ask you not to vote to approve Aron Wieder as Majority Leader. Mr. Wieder does not support strong oversight for East Ramapo. He does not respect our views and he has failed to represent you as your leader.

Then, E-mail the same message:

Hon. Alden H. Wolfe, Chairman

Hon. Toney L. Earl

Hon. Aney Paul

Thank you,

Steven White
Editor, The Power of Ten


Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

  1. Advocates for Justice says school board members should not use district funds for their own legal defense!
  2. Federal Judge allows ‘discovery’ in class action lawsuit!
  3. Urgent: Your contribution is needed!
  4. Message from the editor

1) Advocates for Justice says school board members should not use district funds for their own legal defense:

Supporters of a class-action lawsuit against the East Ramapo school district want to block the Board of Education from using public money to defend school officials in several ongoing legal actions. Betty Carmand and Steven White, through their lawyers at Advocates for Justice, say that NY law does NOT allow for paying legal expenses when employees are acting outside the “scope of their public employment or duties,” and when they have NOT “appeared to have acted in good faith with respect to the exercise of his powers or the performance of his duties.” The actions of the school board members have been intentional, reckless, and borderline criminal; they have been cited by NYSED, the New York State Comptroller and the Commissioner of Education as in violation of law.

Why are we asking for the commissioner to act? Exorbitant legal fees are being incurred — at the expense of children’s public school education — to defend board members and employees for their wrongful acts. We are asking the Commissioner to stop the the board from gorging at what they have come to regard as their own personal “piggy bank.” The board shows no temperance or remorse in wielding a butcher knife to the ERCSD’s budget and carving out its purported entitlement to legal fees first, failing to consider let alone leave sufficient funds for that which its children desperately need most: educators and books. The wholly self-centered and conflicted board believes that legal coverage is automatic, and that they need do nothing more than vote to give it to themselves. Serious misconduct is at issue and is being investigated by no less than three separate state and federal agencies. Its president for nine of the last ten years is in State prison. The district is operating at a six million dollar deficit, and now has authorized the expenditure of millions of dollars in legal fees to defend what will undoubtedly be established as improper conduct on the part of its individual members. Were it simply a matter of money, one might not take such offense; however, the East Ramapo Central School District is comprised of thousands of children, most of them poor, who depend on East Ramapo for their education. They have suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm unless NY State intervenes.

2) Federal Judge allows ‘discovery’ in class action lawsuit:

On October 16th, Advocates for Justice appeared in Federal Court in White Plains in the first court date of the class action lawsuit. The lawyers for the school board argued to immediately dismiss the case, but were rebuffed by the judge. The next step in the case is called “discovery,” in which we will attempt to gather and organize all the facts and data. People with information that is pertinent to the case are encouraged to contact Advocates for Justice lawyer Laura Barbieri at (914) 819-3387 or

3) Your contribution is needed!

Advocates for Justice, a New York based non-profit 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. The damage is clear. 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!

This legal case is getting national media attention. All of America is watching what we do here in Rockland County to get justice. This is our opportunity to take a stand and send a strong message.

YOUR CONTRIBUTION is essential to the success of this action! Funds are needed NOW to continue the extensive preparation we need toward finally getting our day in court and securing JUSTICE for the children of East Ramapo!!!

The other side has for-profit law firms and they may be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars defending actions that hurt our children. We don’t need hundreds of thousands to win, but we need more money than our non-profit organization has now.

Please go to to make your donation today. No contribution is too small.

If you can, automatically donate $10 per month or more. You can do it at the same web page:

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 their actions toward minorities, at the request of the NAACP.

Now hundreds of parents, alumni, and taxpayers have come together in an unprecedented class action lawsuit that will hold accountable those who have violated the public trust. Our case is being heard by the NY State Education Commissioner and by the Federal District Court. The whole community worked hard to build up a great school district, and we will not let it be destroyed by a few greedy men.

Tell your friends: “Justice is coming to East Ramapo!” And we have to go out and get it!

– Steve White, editor



Power of Ten Update

Your personal invitation:

I would like to begin this issue of the Power of Ten update with a special message for each of you. We have arrived at a point where our cause is being heard loud and clear in the halls of power.

Now there are a number of ways in which YOU can be involved. For those who have not yet really been active, if you have been waiting for a personal invitation, please consider this message your personal invitation to be part of the action.

No one can do it all by themselves, but if we each take a part, we can make a difference in the lives of the children of East Ramapo.

Here are the current actions that need your participation:

1) Class Action Lawsuit: 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. You can read all the details online at

Your personal invitations:

  1. Help spread the word: print the class action flyer and pass it out to all your friends and contacts and wherever you go in East Ramapo.
  2. If you are a leader in an organization such as a church or a community group, make sure to inform the members of your organization about this issue.
  3. Sign the retainer yourself. Request it by email or by phone 845-554-5892
2) Participate in Events:
Your personal invitations:
  1. Come to the school board meeting on Tuesday August 21 at 7:30 PM (105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley)
  2. Come out on Thursday August 23 at 6 PM to support the students and recent alumni as they hold a press conference (outside of 105 S. Madison)
  3. Sign up for the event on Facebook at:

3) Help others stay informed:

Your personal invitations:

  1. Get others to sign up for the Power of Ten update. It’s easy to sign up right on the homepage:
  2. Join the Save Our Schools – East Ramapo Facebook group at
  3. Do you have a personal story about what has been lost in East Ramapo? We are compiling a list- add your story at:
4) In the media:
Your personal invitation:
  1. There have been numerous articles about our issue in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, The Journal News, Preserve Ramapo, The Jewish Daily Forward, News 12, Channel 7 Eyewitness News, NBC News 4, WPIX, WCBS, and more. There is also the East Ramapo Underground call-in radio show on WRCR 1300AM every 2nd Friday of the month at 10:00 AM. There is also a YouTube channel devoted to bringing you information about East Ramapo. Share these with your friends, and take the time to call in to the radio and write letters to the editor of the Journal News at
To all of those who are working to ensure every child’s right to a great education- a very personal thank you!Steve White


In this edition:
  1. Attorney general probing East Ramapo real estate dealings
  2. Notice of Non-compliance from NY State Education Dept.
  3. East Ramapo Underground Radio is back!
  4. Town Hall Meeting at CEJJES Institute
  5. Budget vote on June 19
  6. Message from the editor
1. Attorney general probing East Ramapo real estate dealings
The Journal News has reported that the NY State Attorney General has subpoenaed records related to the attempted sale and current leases of two school buildings.
It should be noted that public school students and staff were evicted from these buildings by the school board under the pretext that enrollment was down. Actual enrollment this year is up by over 1000 students from projections made by the board. Overcrowding is now a serious concern, with one high school at 159% of recommended capacity.
We knew that closing schools was bad educational policy for our students. We knew that selling schools in a hurry did not adhere to the fiduciary duty to the taxpayer. We should not be surprised if it turns out that NY State law was violated too.
2. Notice of Non-compliance from NY State Education Dept.
East Ramapo has been forced to post a notice to the community regarding the result of a finding of continuing non-compliance.
In April 2010 NYSED found the district to be in violation of regulations pertaining to placement of special education students. These regulations are designed to promote placement in the environment which is most beneficial to educational outcomes for these students. It appears that the district may have been more concerned about parents desire for a segregated environment than about what was best for the students education. As it turns out, this was also bad for the taxpayer as the property owner has now been stuck footing the bill for these unapproved placements. The cost to East Ramapo property taxpayer for educating these special education students is in the millions of dollars. These students could have been receiving a superior education at state expense, and the money currently being sent to private religious special education schools could have been spent on improving the outcomes for our sistrict, which now has several schools deemed ‘in need of improvement’ by NY State.
3. East Ramapo Underground Radio is back!
The East Ramapo Underground radio show is back! The 2nd Friday of the month @ 10 o’clock on WRCR-1300AM tune in to find out what is happening in the East Ramapo School District. Each monthly show will be for an hour!
Find out what the school district doesn’t want you to know. The show is broadcast live over the internet at or if you can’t listen live, the show will be on our Facebook page. The studio number to call in is 845-362-0013.
Your co-hosts
Peggy Hatton & Antonio Luciano
4. Town Hall Meeting at CEJJES Institute
Saturday, June 30, 2012 6:00 PM
The CEJJES Institute
5 Cooper Morris Drive Pomona, NY

Donation requested Adults $5 Students Free

What is the future of Education in East Ramapo? What does it mean for our children? What does this mean for the community of color? How do we move forward? If you are an administrator, teacher; educator or just a concerned member of the community we want to hear your voice. Please come out and take part in this very important conversation.
rsvp required to: or 845 362 8610 by June 25th, 2012
5. Budget vote on June 19
According to the superintendent, the May 15 budget was voted down as a crass manipulation to prevent public school parents Kim Foskew, Hiram Rivera, and JoAnne Thompson from being elected to the school board.
The same budget will be put up for a revote on June 19. Please do not allow the cynicism and pettiness of the board or the administration to deter you from exercising your right to vote. In the last message, I provided information of where to write to if you are sick and tired of the unethical behavior of the board and the administration. Don’t respond to this challenge by doing less. If you feel that the crass manipulations of the board are making you feel like your vote doesn’t count, take a few minutes when you get home from the poll and WRITE your representative about how you feel AT THAT MOMENT.
6. Message from the editor

Several years ago, the makeup of the East Ramapo School board changed. The majority of the members of the school board became people with strong family and community ties to private schools, specifically private religious schools for the ultra-orthodox Jewish community. Many people were concerned that this school board would use its authority to shift the priorities of the district more toward those schools and the segregated community that they serve. Others felt that the new board could faithfully serve both communities. Any citizen of the district has the right to run for school board, by law. Over the years there have been many confrontations over issues such as budget items and school closings. The non-public school members of the public school board have maintained that their main goal is fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers which necessitates controlling spending.


However, several of their actions have been contrary to that cause:

  • They created a paid position (treasurer) for a close friend, Israel Bier. This job had previously been performed by a district employee at no extra cost.
  • They replaced an attorney for one that cost about 4 times as much per hour.
  • They sold a school (Hillcrest) for a fraction of the appraised value (fortunately the State Education Department halted the sale). Another school sale (Colton) is being held up by the state for similar reasons after a taxpayer complained that they were selling public property without doing their fiduciary duty to get the best return for the taxpayer.
  • They fired Pedro Santana, the most effective and beloved administrator the district has ever seen (according to staff, students and parents).
  • While many of our buildings are in need of millions of dollars of repairs, the two schools that the board voted to sell to non-public schools were the only ones that the state says need no money for repairs over the next 5 years.
  • One of the most powerful of the non-public school board members, Nathan Rothschild, who was president of the board, has been sentenced to federal prison for fraud involving a real estate transaction for another public agency (he was a fire commissioner).
  • The district has been cited by the NY State Comptroller for lack of oversight of millions of dollars of public materials loaned to private schools.
  • The district has been cited by the NY State Education Department Special Education Quality Assurance division for improper placement of students in private schools when a public school would provide superior educational opportunity.

All of this evidence points to the conclusion that what seemed to be a conflict of interest, is indeed a conflict of interest.


The people most directly affected (students and parents) have tried every avenue available to them to protect the quality of education in the district. They have written to every elected and appointed official. They have filed formal appeals with the state. They have raised funds and run coordinated elections bringing out triple the voter turnout of any nearby district. While there have been some achievements, the underlying problem- conflict of interest- has not been resolved.


In a recent board meeting, one of the board members made quite a long speech essentially alleging that all of the complaints from the parents and students are not based on any of the actions that he and his colleagues have taken, but rather were based only on prejudice on the part of the public. This is an obvious attempt to change the discourse away from the facts, which have been presented to the board in precise detail by students, staff, and parents over the years, all of which is well documented in video form on youtube at


Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Thank you to all who helped
  2. News Coverage of the election
  3. Forum on Testing Tuesday
  4. 2012 Election Analysis
1. Thank you to all who helped
Thank you to everyone who made a call, everyone who knocked on a door, everyone who donated, who came to an event, who volunteered on election day. Thank you to anyone who helped in any way. A special thank you to candidates Hiram Rivera, Joanne Thompson, and Kim Foskew.
As you have probably heard, our district was the only one in our area to not pass the budget. None of the candidates with children in the public schools was elected to the school board.
However, these sad results are certainly not for lack of trying. As you will see from the analysis below, East Ramapo Voters are the most active and involved of any in the county (and possibly the USA!)
Our public schools have been making due with less for a long time, despite increasing enrollment over the past three years and increasing needs of the children.
This is not due to any lack of concern or commitment on the part of the parents, many of whom are not citizens and therefore cannot vote, despite being parents and taxpayers.
2. News coverage of the election

An excellent analysis of the implications of the failed budget was published in the Journal News

Lack of signatures in this school board election undercuts the security of the entire system according to election experts, as reported in New York Newsday

3. Forum on Testing Tuesday

What is the future of testing in our schools? Don’t miss this opportunity to voice your opinion about our schools and testing.

Come to a public forum held by the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education.

Learn more about the work being done to change testing nationally and how these changes can affect your school-aged children for the better.



Please join us on Tuesday, May 22 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Rockland Community College, Technology Center, 145 College Road, Suffern, NY. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.



A confirmation is not necessary to attend, but will be helpful for our planning.

To confirm your attendance or for additional information, please email Jamila Brathwaite at

To learn more about the Gordon Commission visit

4. 2012 Election Analysis


This year, once again, East Ramapo voters turned out in numbers far beyond the other districts in Rockland.

Voter turnouts were lower all over the county compared to last year, likely due to the steady rain.

The following table includes East Ramapo PUBLIC sector voters only:



Despite our far greater turnout, our budget was the only one which failed.

This is despite the fact that our YES vote turnout was also much higher than other districts:



The budget which was voted down was less than half of the tax cap limit allowed by state law.

Teacher Salary and budget increases had already been much lower than the county average.

Over the past five years they have been barely more than inflation.




Power of Ten Update
In this edition:
  1. Video Highlights from the last school board meeting
  2. Concerned Citizen’s fundraiser Tuesday
  3. Radio show “East Ramapo Underground” update
1) Video Highlights from the last school board meeting
Here are the videos from the April 4th School Board Meeting. Spring Break is almost over & the next meeting next Wednesday, April 18th (7:30) is the first chance to see the budget before its adopted. This will get you back up to speed.
April 2012 cuts & addbacks
Principal Pat Simmons
Subpoena by NYS Attorney General
Lack of textbooks
East Ramapo School Board has done this
Social Worker talks about needs
2) Concerned Citizen’s Fundraiser Tuesday
Let’s show support for the long overdue change in the leadership of the East Ramapo Schools. This is a one time opportunity to get out the vote-we must restore the district’s educational reputation as a leader in providing a quality educational program for a diverse student body. Please see attached flyer. Please circulate! Look forward to seeing you all!
JOIN US! As the Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo Present: Meet the Candidates Night
At the Chuggin’ Rhino (Corner of Rte 45 & 202)
Tuesday April 17th
Suggested Contribution of $25

3) Message from the East Ramapo Underground

East Ramapo Underground Show from April 12, 2012. With Special Guest Judith Johnson. Judith was the 2008 NY State Superintendent of the Year. During the Clinton administration, Judith was acting Assistant U.S. Secretary of Elementary & Secondary Education.
Judith Johnson describes an effective learning environment, the role of the superintendent & the board in the budget process and many other issues.
Remember you can follow the East Ramapo Underground by going to that Face Book Page. Press the Like button.
If you have questions or topics that you would like to see covered write to
or follow them on Twitter at ERUnderground
The next show is Thursday @ 10 am on WRCR 1300AM, right after the Steve and Charlie Show.
Thanks, Antonio Luciano