Resounding Vote of No Confidence in the East Ramapo School Administration

February 4, 2015 Make no mistake about this. The defeat of this $40 million dollar bond was a resounding no-confidence vote against Superintendent Joel Klein and School Board President Yehuda Weissmandl.

The leaders of the public school community which has been able to turn out 8,000 voters in favor in public school education predicted that Hillcrest and Colton would be sold to the Hasidic community after they were fixed up, and they were. They had no confidence that any additional schools rehabilitated by this obscene board would not also be sold out from under the public school system.

Hank Greenberg, Governor Cuomo's special investigator of the East Ramapo schools, had recommended that no more funds be given to East Ramapo until after a monitor was appointed by the state with the power to overrule any action by the board.

Yet here was a huge $40 million bond that would be handed over to this board with no oversight. And it included a $10 million dollar slush fund with no discernible purpose, which likely would have disappeared through more illegal maneuvers, just like so many millions of dollars of funds have in recent years.

Yesterday Superintendent Klein promised that no (more) schools would be taken away from the public school community. It was too little too late. This was an administration that just weeks ago promised that a Spanish translator would be provided, but then almost immediately reversed itself. This was a school board that has allowed a remarkably abusive law firm to act as its quasi-official bully at public meetings, and that has continued to act almost entirely in private in violation of state law despite being "educated" just a few weeks ago by a state representative who explained its obligation to meet in public.

Then we have the really serious violations of the last few years. These include a fraudulent appraisal of the Hillcrest school that was nevertheless sold for peanuts despite the resistance of the state education; the continued illegal decisions of the board to overrule the committee of the handicapped to send to children out of the public school system; the expenditure of over $3 million in one year in a continued legal battle against the New York State Education Department.

The public school community could not vote against the repairs that our schools need so desperately, and it could not vote for a huge bond issue that it knew would facilitate the continued theft of millions of dollars by this rogue board, so it voted with its feet and stayed home.

Now it is up to the NYS legislature to pass the legislation necessary to allow the appointment of a state monitor who can assure that more millions will not be stolen by this terrible board. Then we can be sure that many thousands will turn out to save the physical plants of our terribly deteriorated public schools.

Robert I. Rhodes, Chairman, Preserve Ramapo