We are a coalition of East Ramapo alumni and other concerned individuals, dedicated to bringing strict oversight to a school district "in a state of distress." Join our Facebook group or e-mail list for regular action updates. Retweet our posts on Twitter: @StrongERamapo.
MAY 2 -- Padres Unidos, Strong East Ramapo, the NAACP, the Rockland Clergy for Social Justice, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Rockland Board of Rabbis and Uri L'Tzedek urges Albany to approve a proposal that would empower the State Commissioner of Education to oversee the budget of the East Ramapo School District.
APRIL 5 -- The East Ramapo School Board seeks to intervene in a lawsuit filed by parents against the State Education Department.
MARCH 31 -- Seeking options to bring change to East Ramapo this year, Rockland's representatives to Albany tried unsuccessfully to introduce a measure inside the New York State budget that would have brought oversight and funds to the district. Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski announced his intention for the approach, which is endorsed by the school board, to become a standalone bill.
MARCH 24 -- For the second year in a row, tensions flare in East Ramapo when a family celebrating the demise of the villain Haman during the holiday of Purim hanged a life-sized doll with black skin, dreadlocks and a hoodie from a window in Spring Valley. The family responsible told the news that they did not realize the lynching of a dark-skinned effigy would be considered abominable. Rockland's Jewish leaders condemned the act.
MARCH 21 -- Regent Betty Rosa, a consistently staunch supporter of public education in East Ramapo, is named Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents.
MARCH 17 -- Rockland County Executive Ed Day blasts Senator Marcellino's remarks from March 10, saying, "A comment like this from the head of the Senate Education Committee is an outrage. I wonder how such an opinion could be formed by an elected official who has never stepped foot in an East Ramapo school building." Day invites Senators Flanagan and Marcellino on a tour of East Ramapo.
THROUGHOUT MARCH -- Strong East Ramapo announces that seven Long Island School Boards (North Shore CSD, Three Village CSD, West Babylon UFSD, Fire Island UFSD, Oceanside UFSD and Brentwood UFSD, New Hyde Park-Garden City Park UFSD), including those in both Senator Flanagan and Senator Marcellino's districts, have all passed resolutions in favor of East Ramapo oversight with veto power.
MARCH 15 -- The Rockland County Legislature unanimously passes a resolution endorsing the state oversight bill for East Ramapo.
MARCH 10 -- In a shift from a previous refusal to accept state money that contained stipulations, school board president Yehuda Weissmandl says he would accept funds "with strings attached" in order to finance full-day kindergarten, art and music and other line-items for public school use.
MARCH 10 -- Senate Education Chair Carl Marcellino from Long Island tells the Gannett news bureau that East Ramapo should "resolve the issues on their own, without the state getting involved; without the state putting in a monitor."
MARCH 8 -- Lobbying group Agudath Israel has an audience with Senator Flanagan in Albany and emphasizes their opposition to an East Ramapo oversight monitor with veto power and an independent election monitor, calling both "unprecedented and unwarranted."
FEBRUARY 10 -- State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia tours East Ramapo schools, surveys the conditions of the dilapidated Ramapo High School roof, meets students and teachers, and reiterates her support for a monitor with veto power.
JANUARY 13 -- Press reports cite support for East Ramapo oversight as one of the top two issues represented at the State of the State Address in Albany.
JANUARY 12 -- After tabling the issue and going into executive session until 11 p.m., the East Ramapo School Board votes to spend $42,000 of the schools' funds to hire lobbyist Pat Lynch in order to kill the oversight bill.
JANUARY 2016 -- Rockland County School Boards Association, Rockland Business Association, Reform Jewish Voice of New York, T'ruah: Rabbinic Call for Justice, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Bend the Arc, the Ecuadorean Association of Spring Valley, and The Journal News are among the latest supporters of the New York State Board of Regents' renewed recommendation for oversight with veto power in East Ramapo.
DECEMBER 14, 2015 -- Dennis Walcott and his team call for a monitor with veto power, echoing Hank Greenberg's report from a year ago. (Full report here.) The Board of Regents supports the recommendation, saying increased funding is needed but must be accompanied by strict oversight. In the meantime, the current monitoring team will continue indefinitely.
DECEMBER 8 - Strong East Ramapo sends a petition with over 600 signatures to Dennis Walcott and his team, requesting that they reaffirm the recommendations of Hank Greenberg to bring a monitor with veto power to the district.
DECEMBER 7 - LatinoJustice, a New York-based civil rights organization, writes a five-page letter calling upon the monitoring team and Commissioner Elia to endorse comprehensive oversight in East Ramapo given the severe neglect of English language learners.
DECEMBER 2 - The East Ramapo board introduces School Leadership LLC, a search firm hired to identify a permanent superintendent.
DECEMBER 1 - The Wall Street Journal reports that the district has seen some initial changes since the beginning of Walcott's tenure, but the problems "run deep."
NOVEMBER 25 - Interim Superintendent Deborah Wortham lays out priorities and strategies, including more frequent assessment of students to inform instructional decisions, at a board meeting.
OCTOBER 27 - The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has outlined discriminatory decisions by the East Ramapo Central School District against students of color. This document from the OCR outlines the findings, and this is the resolution agreement signed by the district.
OCTOBER 7 -- Superintendent Joel Klein, the subject of persistent community protests for over a year after his offensive attitude toward students from immigrant families, resigned. Dr. Deborah Wortham, most recently the head of the Roosevelt School District on Long Island, is named as the interim replacement.
OCTOBER 1 -- The monitoring team held a tense community forum in which attendees said they left with few answers.
SEPTEMBER 16 -- The monitoring team presents its initial findings to the Board of Regents. Dr. Monica George-Fields notes that the board has not operated with urgency around the district's academic under-performance.
AUGUST 31 -- Parents demand swift changes to the East Ramapo School District, or they will begin legal action against the state with the help of the Education Law Center and O'Melveny and Myers LLP.
AUGUST 13 -- Dennis Walcott is named as the lead monitor for East Ramapo, joined by experts Dr. Monica George-Fields and Dr. John Sipple. The New York Times, Education Week, Wall Street Journal, WNYC's Schoolbook, the Albany Times Union, WCBS NewsRadio 88, the Journal News, Hamodia, the Associated Press, the Daily News, CBS and NBC all covered the story. The Journal News also penned a strong editorial.
AUGUST 11 -- News reports indicate that, on Thursday, August 13 at Rockland Community College, Commissioner Elia and Chancellor Tisch will announce the appointment of a temporary monitor to observe and advise the East Ramapo School Board, hold public hearings and write a report for Albany. The monitor will not have the right to reverse board decisions, given that New York State does not pass this year's legislation that would have authorized veto power.
AUGUST 11 -- The board holds a special meeting without alerting the public in accordance with Open Meetings Law.
AUGUST 4 -- Students take to the podium at a board meeting to demand better for themselves and their peers. In addition, President Yehuda Weissmandl refuses requests from the public to use the results from the last election to fill the board seat vacated by Juan Pablo Ramirez.
JULY -- The district is found failing in all areas, according to a State Education Department report.
JULY 28 -- With an extra-large, over-capacity audience waiting for the board meeting to begin, the clerk abruptly announces a lack of quorum for at least the fourth time this year and cancels its meeting.
JULY 27 -- The New York State Supreme Court determines that the East Ramapo School District overpaid its defense attorneys by $2,000,000.
JULY 23 -- Board member Juan Pablo Ramirez resigns his post six weeks into office, paving the way for the board to appoint his successor. Community members demand that one of the candidates that garnered the next number of votes should be installed instead.
JULY 20 -- New State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia indicates that the state will soon release plans for further intervention in East Ramapo.
JULY 7 -- Two years after the district promised to replace the infamously disrespectful and expensive Long Island law firm Minerva and D'Agostino, East Ramapo hires new counsel, Harris Beach.
JUNE 28 -- Dozens of parents and community members have the first of several protests calling for Superintendent Klein's resignation outside his home in New City.
JUNE 26 -- Statement by Strong East Ramapo: "NEW YORK STATE SENATE UTTERLY FAILS THE CHILDREN OF EAST RAMAPO. It is unconscionable that Senate Leader Flanagan would turn his back on the children of East Ramapo by not even conducting a vote for the oversight bill, S. 3821. The legislation had the support of dozens of prominent organizations, including the Rockland County School Boards Association, which clearly would have objected if it felt the bill had jeopardized the concept of local control. Speaker Heastie emerged as a real champion for East Ramapo today, disagreeing with Senator Flanagan, noting that the Assembly approved the oversight bill, and saying, "I think that's what government is here for." We expect that the government will act regardless. The State Education Department released new evidence this week of the district's gross neglect of students, and Assembly Zebrowski is calling on the department to impose sanctions, controls and oversight on the district. Chancellor Tisch just called for the resignation of Superintendent Klein. We are also not done protesting and advocating. As we said and demonstrated on on June 22, we will march on."
JUNE 23 -- The State Education Department releases three new studies that detail the district's profound neglect of East Ramapo students, including denying English language learners a path to graduation.
JUNE 22 -- Joined by Assembly Members Jaffee and Zebrowski, County Executive Ed Day, Regents Judith Johnson and Betty Rosa, hundreds gathered in Spring Valley to call on Senator Flanagan to bring S. 3821, the original East Ramapo oversight bill that passed the Assembly, to a vote. The crowd then walked a mile to the East Ramapo District Headquarters, sang "We Shall Overcome" hand-in-hand in English and Spanish, and committed to march on until victory is won.
JUNE 17 -- Assembly Members Jaffee and Zebrowski announced that they are not supporting the amended bill and indicate that there may still be room for negotiation for the end of session. The community hoped for the best, but prepared for the struggle ahead.
JUNE 16 -- After hearing public opinion and receiving amendments from Assembly Members Jaffee and Zebrowski, Senator Carlucci went back to the table with Republicans and emerged with a few of the requested changes in a revised Senate Bill 5974(A). The new bill now authorizes the governor to appoint the monitor and set a clearer timeline and a process for appealing the board's decisions. Yet the bill still only enables the monitor to object to board actions that violate state or federal law, a provision that many believe would prevent the monitor from addressing the historic pattern of technically legal, but clearly unsound decisions made by the board.
JUNE 14, 11:59 p.m. -- After negotiations with Senate Republicans, Senator David Carlucci introduced Senate Bill 5974, a new bill that removed veto power from the monitor. Instead, a monitor could issue an objection to board actions that violate state or federal law, which the commissioner of education or the comptroller would review. It still mandated the creation of a long-term strategic plan, but added a $5 million/year grant for the district to use to expand academic programs that have been cut. The bill reduced the monitor's term to two and a half years with a provision for renewal, empowered the comptroller, in consultation with the governor, to appoint the monitor, and added oversight responsibilities for the comptroller.
JUNE 11 -- The Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus of the New York State Legislatiure has issued a statement urging the Senate to pass S. 3821.
JUNE 11 -- The New York State Assembly passes A. 5355, 80-56. The Journal News reports that Senator Carlucci is working toward a vote in the Senate.
JUNE 10 -- The bill's co-authors join with supporters, including Assemblyman Jeff Aubry, Rockland County Executive Ed Day, former Assemblyman Alex Gromack, recent Spring Valley High School graduate Olivia Castor, current parent Romel Alvarez, Reform Jewish Voice's Rabbi Michael Churgel, NAACP's Willie Trotman, and AQE's Jasmine Tripper, for a press conference in Albany, advocating for the legislation,
JUNE 10 -- The Assembly Rules Committee votes to support A. 5355. The Journal News reports that the bill is expected to pass the Assembly.
JUNE 9 -- The Assembly Ways and Means Committee votes to support A. 5355.
JUNE 8 -- New York State Education Department deems East Ramapo's Spring Valley High School ineffective (the lowest possible rating) in four different areas in new report.
JUNE 5 -- New York State Appeals Court becomes second court to reject East Ramapo School Board's attempt to use public monies for out-of-code special education placements.
JUNE 5 -- Anti-Defamation League issues press release in support of East Ramapo oversight legislation and tweets support of A. 5355 and S. 3821.
JUNE 4 -- Jewish groups unite to support A. 5355 and S. 3821, refuting claims that the bill is anti-Semitic. Bend the Arc: A Jewish Social Partnership for Justice, the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Jewish Labor Committee, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College all join the American Jewish Committee, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Uri L'Tzedek as supporters. of East Ramapo oversight.
JUNE 3 -- Governor Cuomo reiterated his advocacy for East Ramapo in the Assembly and Senate.
JUNE 3 -- The Assembly Education Committee has passed the bill, and it now moves to Ways and Means.
JUNE 3 -- The New York Times has published a definitive op-ed titled "When A School Board Victimizes Kids" (http://nyti.ms/1SV8RhY) by the New York State Schools Chancellor, Merryl Tisch, and the Executive Director of the Education Law Center, David Sciarra.
JUNE 2 -- New York Civil Liberties Union issues official legislative position in support of A. 5355 and S. 3821.
JUNE 2 -- The Jewish Daily Forward publishes Rabbi Ari Hart's outstanding commentary, "An Immoral Use of Jewish Power in Upstate New York" (http://forward.com/opinion/national/309145/in-east-ramapo-an-immoral-use-of-jewish-power/).
JUNE 1 -- Rockland County School Boards Association, of which East Ramapo is a member, endorses A. 5355 and S. 3821, noting that "the public school students of the East Ramapo School District would greatly benefit from the much needed and overdue oversight."
MAY 28, 2015 -- The New York Civil Liberties Union announces their support of A. 5355 and S. 3821. The Lower Hudson Valley branch plans to honor long-time East Ramapo activists Steve White, Oscar Cohen and Willie Trotman at their annual dinner in June.
MAY 14, 2015 -- The American Jewish Committee endorses the East Ramapo oversight legislation. A-5355/S-3821 “is an important step in healing the rifts that divide the community by requiring the monitor to attend to the needs of all students residing in the district and will also guarantee that the East Ramapo School District will provide its students with the education to which they are entitled by law,” said Marc Stern, the General Counsel for the American Jewish Committee.
MAY 12, 2015 -- The New York City Bar Association issued a legislative report in support of East Ramapo oversight, indicating that students in East Ramapo have not received a sound and basic education, that the board has neglected its fiduciary responsibilities, and that oversight legislation is appropriately scoped.
MAY 11, 2015 -- The New York State School Boards Association announces that it is "encouraged by the fact that the legislation respects the democratic process"
and will not oppose the bill.
Proud of the Political and Civic Leaders Supporting
an End to Favoritism and Reckless Fiscal Mismanagement in East Ramapo
* New York State Assembly Member Thomas Abinanti * New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo * Wilbur Aldridge, Director, Mid-Hudson Westchester Region, NAACP * Alliance for Quality Education * American Jewish Committee * New York State Assembly Member Carmen Arroyo * Association of the Bar of the City of New York * Norman Atkins, co-founder and president of Relay Graduate School of Education * New York State Assembly Member and Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus Jeffrion Aubry * New York State Senator Tony Avella * Richard Barth, CEO of KIPP * New York State Assembly Member Michael Benedetto * New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte * New York State Assembly Member Michael Blake * Airmont Mayor Veronica Boesch * New York State Senator John Bonacic * New York State Assemblyman David Buchwald * Raoul Cansino, Rockland Helping Hands * Haverstraw Town Councilman Isidro Cancel * Rockland County Legislator Christopher Carey * New York State Senator David Carlucci * New York State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark * Dr. Oscar Cohen, Education Chair, Spring Valley NAACP * Rockland County Legislator Harriet Cornell * New York State Assemblyman Marcos Crespo * Governor Andrew Cuomo * Chris Day, Republican Candidate for U.S. Congress * Ed Day, Rockland County Executive * New York State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz * Hazel N. Dukes, President, New York State Conference, NAACP * Rockland County Legislator Toney Earl * New York State Assembly Member Patricia Fahy * Stony Point Town Supervisor Geoffrey Finn * New York State Assembly Member Sandy Galef * Haverstraw Town Councilman Vincent Gamboli * New York State Assembly Member Deborah Glick * New York State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried * Haverstraw Town Councilman John J. Gould * Rockland County Legislator Michael M. Grant * Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack * Rabbi Ari Hart, Uri L'Tzedek (Orthodox Social Justice) * New York State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson * Clarkstown Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner * New York State Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi * Rockland County Legislator Lon M. Hofstein * Rockland County Legislator Jay Hood, Jr. * New York State Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper * New York State Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee * Rockland County Legislator Douglas Jobson * Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre * Wesley Hills Mayor Marshall F. Katz * Joel I. Klein, former New York City Schools Chancellor * Wendy Kopp, founder and board chair of Teach For America and CEO of Teach For All * New York State Senator Liz Krueger * New York State Senator Bill Larkin * Clarkstown Councilwoman Shirley Lasker * New York State Senator George Latimer * New York State Assembly Member Charles Lavine * Rockland County Legislator Nancy Low-Hogan * New York State Assemblyman William Magnarelli * Make the Road New York * New York State Assembly Member Shelley Mayer * Ruth Messinger, President of the American Jewish World Service * Rockland County Legislator Joseph L. Meyers * New York State Assembly Member Michael Montesano * Rockland County Legislator Patrick J. Moroney * New York State Assembly Member Walter Mosley * Rockland County Legislator John A. Murphy * New York State Allies for Public Education * New York State Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell * New York State Assembly Member Steven Otis * Rockland County Legislator Aney Paul * New York State Assembly Member Amy Paulin * New York State Senator Bill Perkins * Rabbi Jonah Pesner and the Religious Action Center of Washington, DC * Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howard T. Phillips, Jr. * New York State Assembly Member Victor Pichardo * Frances Pratt, President, Nyack NAACP * Chestnut Ridge Mayor Rosario Presti, Jr. * New York State Assembly Member Andrew Raia * New York State Assembly Member Jose Rivera * New York State Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez * Al Samuels and the Rockland Business Association * Piermont Mayor Chris Sanders * New York State Senator Diane Savino * New York State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright * New York State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon * New York State Assembly Member James Skoufis * New York State Assembly Member Michaelle Solages * Haverstraw Town Councilman Hector Soto * Kristin Stavisky, Rockland County Democrats * New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky * Andrew Y. Stewart, Supervisor, Town of Orangetown * New York State Assembly Member Al Stirpe * Teachers College Student Senate, Columbia University * Merryl Tisch, Chancellor, New York State Board of Regents * Assemblyman Matthew Titone * Assemblywoman Michelle Titus * Dacia Toll, co-founder and president, Achievement First * Willie Trotman, President, Spring Valley NAACP * State Senator David Valesky * Nyack Mayor Jen Laird White * Pomona Mayor Brett Yagel * New York State Assembly Member Ken Zebrowski *
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