“Calls for the East Ramapo School Board’s president to step down grew louder Tuesday night, as nearly 100 people rallied outside the district’s central office prior to a school board meeting to demand that Yehuda Weissmandl resign his seat after a trustee’s term was cut in half.
The protest, organized by local education advocacy group Strong East Ramapo, comes after Sabrina Charles-Pierre had her term chopped in half because officials said they learned she was not given the oath of office within 30 days of the election results being certified. Charles-Pierre was elected in May to a two-year unexpired seat on the board, but will only serve one year under action taken by officials after they realized their mistake.
Local education advocates, along with the Spring Valley NAACP, have criticized the board and accused the district of shortchanging Charles-Pierre, a black woman representing the interests of public school parents on a board dominated by Orthodox Jewish men who send their children to private schools.
During the meeting’s public comment portion, Weldon McWilliams IV, associate pastor of the First Baptist Church in Spring Valley and one of the founding members of Black Lives Matter – Rockland & Orange Alliance, said he is “extremely displeased with what happened to our sister, Sabrina.”
He went on to urge not only Weissmandl, but the other private school parents on the board, to resign.
“Take responsibility for what happened on your watch,” he told the trustees.
The school board has also been criticized for appointing someone not widely known to a vacant seat, rather than a person with ties to local education.
Joe Chajmovicz was chosen to serve the remainder of Yakov Engel’s term. Chajmovicz, 41, works in the real estate business and has been involved with developing affordable housing. He declined a request for an interview.
During Tuesday’s meeting, several speakers asked Chajmovicz what motivated him to pursue a spot on the board, but he did not answer.
The Spring Valley NAACP has questioned why Jean Fields, a retired Ramapo High School principal and co-chair of the chapter’s education committee, was not selected to serve the balance of Engel’s term.”
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