STORY BY JANIE ROSMAN
If you blinked, then you missed the school board meeting. That’s because it didn’t happen.
“What we witnessed last night was this board’s sheer arrogance and blatant disregard for the community,” Eric Grossfeld, Co-founder of the Get Up, Stand Up: East Ramapo advocacy group, said after board members canceled the meeting minutes before it started.
“Their failure to produce a quorum seemed awfully orchestrated and suggests they’re clearly afraid to face the music from a rapidly growing chorus of people demanding a sound education for the public school students in this district.”
The district has refused repeated requests to speak with the Rockland County Times.
Luis Nivelo requested at the July 7 board meeting that such meetings be held in a larger room to accommodate everyone who wants to attend. The board disregarded the wishes of the community and broke the law by holding a meeting of that magnitude in a room clearly intended for smaller audiences.
Additionally board members may have violated New York State’s Open Meetings Law.
“The days are gone when no one will show up to a board meeting,” First Baptist Church Reverend Weldon McWilliams IV, said via megaphone (the video was posted on YouTube). “Are you committed to demanding that they listen to your wishes?” he asked.
“Yes!” the packed room replied.
“Do you want board members that will be committed to coming to each and every meeting? That’s what we demand: that we shouldn’t expect anything less,” McWilliams said.
“What we’re saying to the board, who left like cowards, what we’re saying to the board, who left like cowards, we’re saying that this is unacceptable, and that every meeting from now on should be in a room where they can anticipate that all of us will be there. We don’t want cowards on our board. We want people who are going to figure out how to give our children a decent and fair education,” he said.
In other news, newly-elected school board member Juan Pablo
Ramirez recently resigned his position earlier this month.
The district declined repeated requests to speak with the Rockland County Times, before finally issuing a general statement addressing the situation.
The statement read, “Last night’s board meeting was unfortunate. We were indeed aware that there would be additional attendees and actually made 50 percent more seating available, but it wasn’t enough. This led to an uncomfortable environment. For this inconvenience, we apologize. In addition, we had a problem with the unexpected absence of board members. Our district clerk, as she always does, dutifully contacted all members prior to the meeting and determined that were would indeed be a quorum. Unfortunately, due to last-minute, unexpected developments in the personal lives of members, this was not the case. Again, we are sorry that this occurred.”
“In the future, we will hold board meetings in the gymnasium or another suitable auditorium where space will not be an issue. In addition, we will enhance our efforts to ensure that the required number of board members is present. Given the difficulties experienced last night, we will look to reschedule last night’s meeting to early next week (tentatively for Tuesday.) We will advise on this next meeting as soon as possible and invite all those who want to participate to do so.”