“A local NAACP chapter is criticizing the East Ramapo school board after an African-American trustee’s term was cut in half because the district failed to swear her into office in time.
But the board, while acknowledging it made an administrative error by not swearing in Trustee Sabrina Charles-Pierre within 30 days of the election results being certified, said it took corrective action Tuesday to ensure she remains on the board by appointing her to a one-year term.
Charles-Pierre was initially appointed to the board in October to fill a vacancy after Trustee Juan Pablo Ramirez resigned. During the May school board election, she ran unopposed to serve the remainder of the term, which is due to expire in June 2018.
Her term now expires in May 2017.
Local education advocates are also questioning school officials’ decision Tuesday to appoint someone they knew nothing about to an open seat on the board, instead of selecting someone with ties to education.
“Ms. Fields, despite receiving over 4,000 votes, lost a bid for a seat in last May’s election,” said the NAACP’s Oscar Cohen. “Ms. Fields, who is a person of color, is recognized by students, parents and educators as an exemplary educator and community leader.”
The NAACP said it plans to refer both matters to the state Board of Regents and state education commissioner.
A state Department of Education spokesman on Wednesday said he could not comment because of the possibility that those issues could come before the commissioner in an appeal.
The NAACP also plans to contact the state attorney general, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Cohen said.
Andrew Mandel, head of a local advocates group, Strong East Ramapo, vehemently criticized the board’s Tuesday night decisions.
“Through a combination of irresponsibility and willful neglect of the public’s wishes, the board has invalidated Sabrina Charles-Pierre’s election and ignored Jean Fields’ meritorious candidacy for an open board seat,” Mandel said. “These acts together, in a single evening, make it hard not to see the board as deliberately antagonizing the public school community and we must pursue every avenue to protect the interests of the children attending district schools.”
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