Community View in The Journal News
by Lou Grumet, March 23, 2016
New York leaders once again ignore problems, just as they did in early days of Kiryas Joel divide
For over a dozen years, or more than the entire education of an individual child, the political decision-makers of the State of New York have failed to find a solution to East Ramapo school district’s difficult problems.
One side talks about not having sufficient resources; the other talks about discrimination against minority children. Both may be right. Meanwhile, the state performs periodic investigations, but does little to resolve the issues, including dwindling education quality for public schoolchildren, poor management of the district’s limited resources and a rapid growth of a private-school community that demands resources.
There is a sad sense of deja vu to those of us who watched a similar lack of resolve in Kiryas Joel school district, not far away. Indeed, the connections between the two school districts are more than coincidence — most of the disabled children in Kiryas Joel were placed there by East Ramapo, instead of serving them in the home district. [Read more…]
“Last week brought another FBI raid in town, with another round of accusations that federal monies had been misappropriated by those affiliated with the Orthodox Jewish community. Ongoing tension over zoning regulations, or lack thereof, builds. The distrust continues in the East Ramapo school district, where years of mismanagement by an Orthodox-dominated board have brought efforts to install a state monitor to provide oversight. Tensions have run high in town for a while now, and it’s only getting worse. Some leaders in the Orthodox community cite East Ramapo critics as spewing anti-Semitism; some town residents find instances of probes, like Wednesday’s raids, as proof of rampant corruption among all people of a certain group. Neither passes the smell test. [Read more…]
Letter Posted by Rockland County Executive Ed Day
March 17, 2016
“Decades before Wednesday’s raids struck yeshivas throughout Ramapo, another educational institution was rocked by a scandal connected with Rockland’s ultra-Orthodox community. A federal investigation into the theft of tens of millions of dollars by New Square officials and residents started in 1993 with a $11.6 million scam to steal college assistance involving a mentoring program through Rockland Community College. The probe resulted in the 1999 convictions of three New Square men and a Brooklyn man for conspiring with other Hasidic Jewish community leaders to steal millions of dollars from federal government anti-poverty programs since the 1970s. Federal prosecutors said the four men and others submitted phony documents with phantom names to federal agencies to get millions of dollars from programs for education, housing and small businesses.” Full story here.
“Planning Board considers three more school in the Highview Road-Spook Rock Road area, even as one unapproved school is raided by FBI in technology fraud case. Talmud Torah OHR Yochanan went into business one morning in October 2009 when several busloads of children were dropped off at 97 Highview Road, a single-family house with a narrow one-car driveway. The school has yet to get final approval from the Ramapo Planning Board, yet it receives tuition and state assistance for more than 200 students as it operates under a temporary certificate of occupancy. The school added 93 and 97 Highview Road to its campus, plus two classroom trailers and converted the second floor into classrooms. Wednesday afternoon, the school was among the 22 places raided by FBI agents and Rockland District Attorney’s Office detectives armed with search warrants demanding vendors and yeshivas account for computer-related equipment allegedly bought by religious schools with millions in federal subsidized education technology dollars. No one has been arrested and no criminal charges have been filed.” Read the complete Journal story here.
Watch the ABC news coverage here.
“FBI agents and Rockland district attorney’s office investigators fanned out across Ramapo on Wednesday with search warrants demanding that vendors and yeshivas provide records and account for equipment allegedly bought by religious schools with millions in federal education technology dollars. Agents descended around 1:30 p.m. on vendors at 21 and 29 Robert Pitt Drive, Monsey; 161 Route 59, Monsey; and 386 Route 59, Airmont to seize records. The raids began to spread in the late afternoon to yeshivas in the Monsey area. A group of FBI agents were seen outside a yeshiva at 93, 95 and 97 Highview Avenue, all converted single-family homes. They would not comment. [Read more…]
Challengers grabbed control of the New Hempstead village board in Tuesday night’s elections. New Hempstead’s election revolved around concerns about development, with residents fiercely protective of their village’s semi-rural character. Longtime Trustees Solomon Fuerst and Paul Mundt, who received 284 and 279 votes, respectively, fell to challengers Adam Reich and Avroham Sicker, who received 360 and 365 votes, respectively, according to unofficial results. The two seats were for four-year terms. Incumbent David Weiss also lost his seat to Shalom Mintz to fill an unexpired, two-year term. Weiss received 290 votes, while Shalom Mintz received 352, according to unofficial results. In Hillburn, Trustee Bonnie O’Blenis held onto her seat. O’Blenis received 65 votes, which was enough to beat out challenger Thomas Scott, who received 45. There was a single write-in ballot. Scott who joined the board in 2010 when O’Blenis resigned, won a seat outright in 2011 but lost in 2013 to Eleanor DeGraw. O’Blenis returned to the board in an uncontested trustee race in 2014 and was seeking her second term.” Complete Journal News reporting here.