BY JANIE ROSMAN
For the first time in years a female voice will be heard on the previously-male-dominated East Ramapo school board.
Monday night its members unanimously approved Sabrina Charles-Pierre to fill the seat hastily vacated by Juan Pablo Ramirez in July. The 28-year-old paralegal is the mother of a 4-year-old and a 15-year-old, who is enrolled in the district.
A 2005 alumnus of the district and a recent graduate of Rockland Community College, she ran for the board last May and will serve the district until next spring, when she can run for a full three-year term.
“As a parent, as an individual, as a former student, I feel that our board should be in the best interest of our kids,” she said during her campaign. “As a community, I hope that we will be able to work together as one to not just change, but also to improve our kids’ education. We as parents are the voices of our kids and it is time to start coming together as one.”
The Rockland County Times spoke with Charles-Pierre as she drove to work Tuesday morning.
“I am excited,” she said the day after being sworn in by district clerk Cathy Russell. “First and foremost is understanding parents’ concerns, figuring out what needs to be done and how to take action.”
She told board members who interviewed her last Saturday, “East Ramapo is wounded, and it takes time for a wound to heal. You can’t expect things to happen overnight.”
One change that can be effected now is announcing meetings in advance.
“I noticed the board does a lot of last-minute meetings, and as a parent, it is not convenient,” Charles-Pierre said. “If there needs to be an emergency meeting, that’s one thing. Certain situations where a meeting is posted at the last minute, and then people attend and find no meeting . . . we’ll see what can be done.”
Next Tuesday will be her first meeting — one not yet posted on the district’s website — as a voting member.
“I will try my best for the short-term good of this community and district, and focus to see what can be done now,” Charles-Pierre said, “then look at long-term goals.”
“Ms. Charles-Pierre brings a unique perspective to the board. She is an East Ramapo graduate, a working mother, parent’s association member and volunteer in the community,” Weissmandl said via statement.
“By working with state monitors, a new superintendent and other experts, we are in a position to do something extraordinary here in East Ramapo,” Weissmandl said. “We can institute new approaches and make programmatic changes to ensure our children get a high quality education.”
“We look forward to Ms. Charles-Pierre being a part of that process. Together we can invest in our schools and in our students’ future,” he said. “This is the charge and challenge of board members and all others who care about the children of the district. Our community has a wonderful opportunity to turn around the school district and make it one of the best. We can and will do that by working together.”
Charles-Pierre said it’s time for the district “to unite as one and put aside whatever negativity we may have to pave a way for kids to have a better future.”