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The Betrayal 

Por Mariel Fiori
April 2021
There are issues in the East Ramapo Central School District in Rockland County that have negatively affected the academic performance of black and Latinx students at public schools for years. The fact is that the Board of Education has diverted funds from public schools for the benefit of private schools, mainly yeshivas (Orthodox Jewish schools). The public school student body is 62% Latino and 30% Black. This damage feels like a betrayal of immigrant parents who work long hours and rely on public education for their children.

A few days ago I talked about it on my radio show, La Voz con Mariel Fiori on Radio Kingston, with two parents active in solving this problem, Ana Maeda and Luis Nivelo, from the groups Juntos Lucharemos and Unión de Padres (parents) of East Ramapo CSD, respectively. “As a mother it’s sad to see the injustice. My two children are part of the Latino community and there are not enough funds to do activities in the schools that they would like to do while other districts have it. It’s sad to see that our children are affected by the negligence and injustice of the district when those who occupy the place of the board of directors have to work for our children and are not doing it. Their position is to help our community, not take away from the quality of our children's education,” said Maeda.

Nivelo said that the members of the ERCSD board of education “are people who should not be in our schools, they are outsiders, who are politically holding seats in order to take what by right is for the education of the entire community. For seven years we have been fighting racism from the same superintendent, Doctor Kline [now replaced]. There is also another problem that you see in the United States, the vote is the voice. If you cannot vote, you are not a citizen.”

In 2017, parents of students in the school district and the Spring Valley NAACP filed a lawsuit organized by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) challenging the general method of electing members to the ERCSD Board of Education. The lawsuit argued that the system at large illegally denied Black and Latino citizens in the district the same opportunity to elect candidates of their choice and, as such, was a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The lawsuit called for a wards-style system to be put in place to give minority voters the opportunity to elect the candidates of their choice. Last May, United States District Court Judge Cathy Seibel issued a decision in favor of the plaintiffs. The constituency system was also a recommendation made by Dennis Walcott and his fellow State Appointed Monitors in their 2015 report. This is a step in the right direction, but it is not the solution.

Parents, students, educators, and alumni believe the solution is to pass legislation in the New York State Legislature (Bill A. 5683) to give state-appointed monitors veto power over ERCSD decisions, given the Board track record in violating the rights of black and Latino public school students in favor of private school students, who are not Black or Latino.

In a March letter sent by the State Commissioner of Education, Betty Rosa, to the president of the NAACP chapter in Spring Valley, Willie Trotman, she acknowledges the current serious fiscal problem of the school district. With a negative balance of $25 to $30 million, the board announced that it would lay off 33 teachers, from an already minimal staff. Trotman wrote: “The announcement was met with frustration and anger. With COVID-19, this has already been the most catastrophically stressful year in the lives of children, families, and staff, and teachers often represent one of the few anchors of emotional support and stability for children and their families. especially in East Ramapo, the only district in the county without a social worker. Whoever is responsible for this latest East Ramapo budget debacle, neither children, parents nor teachers should pay the price.”

Rosa, in her response, said that she supports the legislation that would give monitors veto power over decisions, resolutions, and inactions of the Board. In her letter, Commissioner Rosa also supports the State Comptroller's office (OSC) to conduct forensic audits of contracts issued by ERCSD to non-public school service providers for the past ten years.

For Ana, Luis, and the NAACP the fight continues.

Mariel Fiori
Managing Editor


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La Voz, Cultura y noticias hispanas del Valle de Hudson



Comentario: Most certainly a sad situation , where I think the churches could step in and provide missing activities . Politics is always a rough game , and the Hebrew population was itself, not long ago, a victim of horrendous prejudice.
Posted: 4/6/2021