Play Highlights East Ramapo Problems

First presentation given at New City Library

BY ROBERT KNIGHT
CITY EDITOR
ROCKLAND COUNTY TIMES

A traveling play that tries to give an insider’s take on problems in the East Ramapo School District was unveiled to an enthusiastic and somewhat shocked audience Sunday at the New City Library.

Entitled simply “East Ramapo,” the play was written and directed by long-time resident and environmental activist Mark Judelson, who explained to his audience of nearly 100 that he needed to tell the community about problems he has been witnessing in his home district over the past few years.

The subject matter is so controversial, Judelson says, the play’s initial presentation scheduled for the Finkelstein Memorial Library in Spring Valley was cancelled by library officials. Judelson said he was given no explanation for the action, other than library officials felt it was “inappropriate” for their patrons, who are part of the troubled East Ramapo District.

The play runs about 45 minutes and features six “actors” who in reality are residents, parents, students and officials in the East Ramapo District, each of whom shared their own personal problems and views of the troubled system.

At the heart of the play is the continuing conflict within a public school district that is located in a community in which many students attend private religious schools and the school board is controlled by a majority that comes from the ranks of that private school community. At the same time, students in the heavily minority public schools have been hit hard by staff reductions and major program cuts.

Judelson said three more performances of the “East Ramapo” play are already scheduled in the next few weeks, and additional ones can be added for groups that would like to sponsor a show.

He said the purpose of the play is to raise awareness within the general community of Rockland County about the on-going strife in East Ramapo, in the hopes that a consensus can be achieved on how to fix the deteriorating situation there.