The following letters from Oscar Cohen and Kim Foskew reflect the outrage over the Board’s attempt to limit the term of Sabrina Charles-Pierre and to appoint an unknown to the Board.
Administrative oversight needs examination
On Tuesday night, the East Ramapo’s school board announced the appointment of Joseph Chajmovicz, an unknown to the public school community, to an open seat.
Mr. Chajmovicz, who it’s believed has no history of running for the board, was chosen over Jean Fields, retired Ramapo High School principal and co-chair of the Spring Valley NAACP Education Committee.
Ms. Fields, despite receiving over 4,000 votes, lost a bid for a seat in last May’s election. Ms. Fields, who is a person of color, is recognized by students, parents and educators as an exemplary educator and community leader.
The school board also announced that board member Sabrina Charles-Pierre, who despite being duly elected in May for a two-year term, would not be permitted to serve the two-year term due to an “administrative oversight.” She will only be permitted to serve for one year. Ms. Charles-Pierre is a person of color.
Spring Valley NAACP President Willie Trotman is referring the board’s decision regarding its “administrative oversight” to the New York State Board of Regents, State Education Commissioner, New York State Attorney General, New York Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.
The writer is education committee co-chair of the Spring Valley NAACP.
Another disappointing action by board
I was in attendance at the East Ramapo school board meeting with the hopes of seeing my friend, and advocate for all children, Jean Fields, appointed to the school board, only to be once again disappointed by this board’s decision to name a virtual unknown, Joe Chajmovicz to the board. I do not know Mr. Chajmovicz and will not discredit his qualifications that I am unaware of, but I will speak of Mrs. Fields’ unending qualifications and proven advocacy spanning decades. I would also point out that in my opinion the entire East Ramapo community is aware of Mrs. Fields and knows of her, I cannot say the same for Mr. Chajmovicz. If we are truly looking to bridge the gap that recently seemed to be lessening, Mrs. Fields was the only and obvious choice.
My disappointment quickly turned to anger when I heard the next order of business saying that Sabrina Charles-Pierre who was elected in May with over 4,900 votes and ran unopposed, lost her seat due to an “administrative oversight” and that rather than have her lose her seat she would be appointed to another one year term and have to run again for her seat in May 2017. I find this unbelievable that this can happen, Sabrina is not the first person to have been appointed over the years and the rules/laws are known, so I for one find it very hard to believe that this was just an oversight. If we are truly interested in doing the right thing this board needs to speak to Albany, lawyers or whoever and pass a resolution that would retroactively swear in Sabrina and allow her to complete her term that she was elected to and has earned.
If we are truly a community and a school board looking to represent the entire East Ramapo community we need to build community relations and trust. The way to do this is with transparency and honesty, both of which were missing at Tuesday’s school board meeting and too many meetings that I have attended over the course of my involvement.
During a time in our community and world that seems so troubled at the moment I implore you to please do what is right by all children enabling them to make a better world for us all.
The writer is a former candidate for East Ramapo school board trustee.