EAST RAMAPO REDUX: OPEN LETTER FROM LOCAL STATE OFFICIALS TO EDUCATION COMMISSIONER KING

Dear Commissioner King,

We are writing you regarding the recently issued report by Fiscal Monitor Henry M. Greenberg on the East Ramapo School District. We would like to commend the selection of Mr. Greenberg for this task. We, and the East Ramapo community that we serve, are grateful for the thoroughness and thoughtfulness with which Mr. Greenberg approached this lofty task, and we strongly value his insight to improve the district so that all of East Ramapo’s children can receive the quality education they rightfully deserve.

As East Ramapo’s collective representatives in the New York State Legislature, we have already started discussions on developing a legislative response to the issues and problems outlined in the report. Additionally, we have requested Jim Yates, Counsel to Speaker Silver to schedule a meeting with ourselves, the State Education Department and Program and Counsel of the Assembly and Senate to address specific legislation . In the interim, we feel that it is within your authority to act on several of the recommendations as the Legislature has granted the State Education Department wide latitude and responsibility in exercising oversight over schools in New York.

We have specifically empowered you to be able to respond quickly to situations that arise, such as this one. We firmly believe that the Department, under previously cited statutory and regulatory provisions (Education Law sections 305, 308 and 215; federal Education Department General Administrative Regulations) has the authority right now to step in and enact several of Mr. Greenberg’s recommendations such as requiring the Board to complete training covering the Open Meetings Law and diversity. By acting quickly on these recommendations we all send a strong and clear message that we are fully behind Mr. Greenberg’s recommendations and the students of East Ramapo.

We cannot emphasize enough our united, strong and unwavering commitment to achieving results for the children of East Ramapo and we view you, the Board of Regents, and the entire Education Department, as essential partners in reaching that goal. We are presented with an historic opportunity here to rectify a situation that has gone on for far too long, and the children of East Ramapo deserve nothing less that the full efforts of all parties involved.

Sincerely,
Senator David Carlucci, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski