Monitor can protect East Ramapo school board, too

December 19, 2015
Robert I. Rhodes Community View 
in The Journal News


 
East Ramapo School Board

(Photo: John Meore/The Journal News)

 Re "'Opportunity Deferred': 19 reforms for E. Ramapo," Dec. 14 article:

The East Ramapo school board needs a monitor with veto power to protect it from its own constituency. For years, the school board did everything possible to hold down taxes and provide its own Hasidic community with universal busing and “appropriate” education for its special education students while it told its constituents that any complaints coming from the public school community were unfair and motivated by anti-Semitism.
 

This message had no real costs for the religious community until national media got involved, clergy organized and went to Albany to complain and the lawsuit of public school parents against the school board progressed to the point where it has become a real threat.
 

Finally there was also the realization that the deferred maintenance on school buildings could no longer be ignored but a $40 million bond for school maintenance proposed by the board could not survive withering criticism.

Until now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sat on his hands knowing that while the monitor bill might pass in the Democratic New York Assembly his Republican allies in the Senate would kill the bill.
 

It will be interesting to see if New York State’s large and growing Hasidic community will allow a real monitor bill to pass in the Senate.  In the meantime let us hope that our East Ramapo school board will work to get us out of the hole it created.  We must all work together to save our schools.
 

The writer is chairman of Preserve Ramapo.