Rockland County, NY – With the failure of the legislature to pass the controversial East Ramapo bill to appoint a fiscal monitor to oversee the district for five years, the Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents is calling for school board superintendent Joel Klein to be forced out from his position as a show of good faith on the part of the embattled school district.
The Wall Street Journal quotes (http://on.wsj.com/1GU61TU) Chancellor Merryl Tisch as saying, “It’s time for the board of East Ramapo to stop living in this fantasy where the world doesn’t see them as being misguided in their treatment of these public school children, and do something to show . . . they are going to try to act to repair a very damaged relationship” with the local community.
In response to the Chancellor’s comments, Darren Dopp, a spokesman for the school district and the superintendent said, “The problems in East Ramapo are complex, and being superintendent in the district is very difficult.” Dopp said the board had supported a compromise bill which would have provided $5 million each year to the district, and would have allowed the governor to appoint a monitor. Calling that bill “a real solution,” Dopp said, “It’s beyond disappointing that it didn’t pass.”
Presently, the school board is run by Orthodox Jews, with some 24,000 children attending private yeshivas. Comparatively, there are 9,000 public school students in the district. Public school parents have argued that not enough money is being allocated for the public school children, with the bulk of the district’s taxpayer allocations going to cover busing and special needs services for the private schools.
Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said his conference did not vote on either incarnation of the bill, saying he was opposed to imposing state rule over local officials and “usurping the authority of an elected board.” Flanagan also noted that past interference on the part of the state did not yield “stellar” results in the East Ramapo district.
For his part, Governor Cuomo acknowledged that the situation is East Ramapo was “a very difficult problem,” and vowed it would be re-examined again during the next legislative session.