From Strong East Ramapo
“YOU VOIDED OUR VOTES” — The East Ramapo School Board shocked the public tonight with an electoral double whammy by first appointing the mysterious Joseph Heimowitz to its open board seat and then announcing that Sabrina Charles-Pierre was ineligible to her two-year term due to an “administrative oversight.”
After a 90-minute executive session, board members did not appoint former Ramapo High School principal Jean Fields (who received 4,000 votes in the May election) to its open seat, choosing Heimowitz (who was not present and whose name elicited an audible “who’s that?” from the audience) instead. When approached after the meeting, President Weissmandl said Heimowitz was a “businessman” who “has children” and is “involved in educational projects.”
Meanwhile, district lawyer Douglas Gerhardt said that, because Sabrina Charles-Pierre was elected to complete the term of a vacated seat, she needed to have been sworn in within 30 days of her election. Since that did not happen — due to whose fault, it is not yet clear — the board supposedly had no choice but to appoint her to a one-year term.
Those in attendance were shocked by the news and rushed to the dais to demand answers, exclaiming “you voided our votes!” Did they just appoint another white man to the board while invalidating the lawful election of a woman of color? The Journal News and Board of Regents have been notified. We’re alerting public interest lawyers as well. The New York State Education Department has yet to appoint new monitors to the district, but this newest breach of trust must hasten the arrival of Albany’s eyes and ears.
We knew we needed to remain vigilant, but it’s so troubling that it had to happen so soon. Put Tuesday, August 23 on your calendar. It’s the next school board meeting, where we must demand accountability for invalidating the votes of the public.
Andrew Mandel StrongER