They'll be lobbying Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Speaker Sheldon Silver and others for immediate State fiscal and administrative oversight and revision of governance of the East Ramapo school district.
The group, composed of rabbis, ministers, pastors and imams from Rockland County and nearby communities, formed earlier this month and held a press conference to explain their concerns.
The issues, as the clergy group sees them, are these:
* The East Ramapo Central School District board has reduced services to students-- most of whom are African-American, Haitian American and Hispanic-- to bare bones, eliminating or sharply curtailing academics, science and math electives, music and art, athletics, guidance counselors, social workers and assistant principals.
* The school board--mostly members of the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, which does not send its children to public schools--is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Inspector General and Office of Civil Rights; the New York State Attorney General; the New York State Comptroller’s Office; the New York State Education Department and the New York Civil Liberties Union for fiscal irregularities, including diverting public funds to segregated religious schools.
* The board has blatantly ignored state Education Department compliance directives concerning its improper practices.
* The board hired a controversial attorney to justify its sending Orthodox special education children to religious schools at public expense and to defend itself against corruption allegations at double the fee of the district’s previous attorney. The board publicly promised to replace the law firm after a video of an attorney from the firm threatened parents in an expletive-laced rant which went viral on the internet. Six months later, the law firm still represents the board at the same high fees.
School district officials have said that the district lost $11 million in state aid federal aid and had to make the massive program cuts to balance the budget.