Comment 6/8/15 by Oscar Cohen (Rockland Clergy for Social Justice) on ERCSD Appeal Dismissal

Grassroots organizer and leader of the Rockland Clergy for Social Justice had the following comments on the 6/4/15 appeal decision of the NY Supreme Court Appellate Division, particularly regarding the amount of legal fees accumulated by the ERCSD school board, paid for by the local taxpayers.  See below.

Oscar Cohen 6-8-15 Latest State Court Decision vs. ER School Board

NYS Supreme Court Dismisses ERCSD appeal re Breach of IDEA 6-4-15

On June 4, 2015 the State of New York Supreme Court (Albany) Appellate Division issued a decision denying the appeal of the East Ramapo Central School District of a ruling by the State Commissioner of Education that it had breached provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The Commissioner had found that the petitioner’s dispute resolution practices relating to students’ individualized education programs violated the IDEA.  To receive federal funding under the IDEA, the State Education Department must establish procedures to ensure that students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment and an individualized education program tailored to their needs. The students and their parents are also afforded certain procedural safeguards . In turn, petitioner’s receipt of funding under the IDEA requires the annual submission of “a plan that provides assurances to” the Department that, in its provision of education to students with disabilities, it complies with the policies and procedures that the State Education Department established.

The appellate court ruled that the IDEA does not expressly confer upon the petitioner a private right of action to contest the State Education Department’s regulatory and enforcement actions, so its appeal was dismissed.  A copy of the decision is below.

ERCSD v John B King Appeal Decision 6-4-15

Grassroots Organizers Encouraging All to Email NYS Senators to Approve ER Oversight Bill

NYS Bill for State Oversight of the East Ramapo passed in the NY Assembly!!!

The NYS Assembly vote on June 12/15 was an historic milestone in the struggle for justice in East Ramapo. Bill A5355 for a appointment of a fiscal monitor passed 80-56 thanks in large part to the efforts of Ellen Jaffee and Ken Zebrowski, as well as Assembly Education Chair Cathy Nolan, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, Assemblyman Aubry, and Speaker Heastie.

Grassroots organizers, including Power of Ten and Rockland Clergy for Social Justice, are asking people to send emails to NYS senators urging them pass Bill S3821.  Below is a link provided by Power of Ten to a draft letter to the Senate Rules Committee requesting support of the bill.


Wall Street Journal 6/11/15: NYS Assembly Passes Bill Appointing Monitor of ERCSD

 N.Y. Lawmakers Approve Monitor for East Ramapo School District

Bill marks one of the strongest state interventions in a N.Y. district in more than a decade

New York state Assembly members passed a bill on Thursday that would create a state monitor to oversee the troubled East Ramapo school district.

The district is located about 30 miles north of New York City, and its school board is controlled by Orthodox Jewish men who send their children to private religious schools.          Read more…

Email 6/9/15 to NYS Legislature Members Listing Organizations in Support of ER Oversight Bill

On June 9/15, the Rockland Clergy for Social Justice sent a list to all members of the NYS Legislature of the organizations which support Bill A 5355/  S 3821 seeking state oversight of actions of the East Ramapo Central School District board.  These organizations represent leaders and groups of many religious affiliations. 

Please see the list below:

ER Oversight Bill Organization Endorsements 6-15: 91 Year Old Berk Sings Song that Released her from Nursing Home

91 year old Ruth Berk had been declared incompetent, was appointed a guardian and was moved into a nursing home out of her Village apartment against her will and without the right to appear at the court hearing.  Arthur Schwartz of A4J took on her case to fight the ruling.  At the hearing in May, Justice Tanya Kennedy would initially not let Ms. Berk speak but she interrupted, said she wanted to go home.  Berk sang two songs, “Summertime” and “My Funny Valentine”, which convinced the judge that she was competent enough to move back into her apartment on Christopher St.     Please see this video clip from an interview with Ms. Berk….

NY Post 5-4-15: Ruth Berk Gets out of Nursing Home for a Song

91-year-old sings for judge, gets to leave nursing home


She got her home back for a song.

A 91-year-old former Broadway singer who was declared incompetent and tossed into a nursing home was returned to her Greenwich Village apartment — after wowing a Manhattan judge with her vocal talents.      Read more…