“State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa is backing legislation that would give state monitors the power to veto decisions by East Ramapo’s school board.
The move offers critical support for a measure long sought by public school advocates.
The education department has been working behind the scenes with state lawmakers to craft a law “to ensure that all East Ramapo students have access to the high quality education that they deserve and that adult/governance problems of this district do not impact the students,” department officials say.
Rosa detailed her concerns in a letter sent Friday to Willie Trotman, the president of the Spring Valley chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which is urging Rosa to remedy the “unjust” treatment of the district’s public school students.
Rosa said new legislation needs to include provisions already added to bills for school districts in Rochester, Hempstead and Wyandanch that “enhance public transparency and accountability.”
“The proposed legislation would provide the monitors with veto power over Board decisions, resolutions, and inactions where the monitors find that such violates state law, the rules and regulations of the Commissioner of Education, or the District’s long-term strategic academic and fiscal improvement plan,” she wrote.
The legislation would include a conflict of interest policy to make sure board members and administrators “act in the District’s best interest and comply with applicable legal requirements.”
“The New York State Education Department understands the concerns that you raise, and we acknowledge that ERCSD is facing a dire fiscal situation due to a multitude of factors,” Rosa writes.
Since 2015, amid growing mistrust between the district’s public and private school communities, two state monitors were assigned to attend East Ramapo Central School District board meetings and weigh in with advice and recommendations.
Rosa’s letter said state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has announced that his office will audit the district’s budget for the 2021-22 school year.
The comptroller’s office confirmed the review.
Rosa’s letter said, depending on its findings, the comptroller “could decide to expand its review of the District to include forensic audits, and the Department has asked OSC to consider doing just this.”
Assembyman Kenneth Zebrowski praised Rosa’s interest in the district.
“Commissioner Rosa has personally given extraordinary attention to the East Ramapo School District,” Zebrowski said. “My office has worked with her and her staff for close to a year on this bill and they could not be more dedicated to helping out these students.”
Read the full Journal News coverage here.