BY JANIE ROSMAN
East Ramapo’s new interim superintendent was greeted with a round of applause last week after the school board unanimously voted her to replace Dr. Joel Klein.
“We have to provide access to invigorate our students,” Dr. Deborah L. Wortham said. “My philosophy is, ‘What are we doing every hour of every day to secure a great future for our students?”
This sharply contrasts Klein, who was criticized for the board’s lack of transparency and discrimination against minority and public school students.
Fran Lamarre-Cham hoped Klein’s resignation is the start of “real change” in the East Ramapo school district, where she resides.
“It isn’t easy but we don’t want to send them to the dilapidated high schools,” Lamarre-Cham said of the decision to send her children to private school. “It seemed whenever I did email Klein about any issue it was pushed to the side.”
She noted that when her children attended the district’s elementary schools, “The teachers and principals went above and beyond.”
“This is an honor and a privilege and a pleasure to be able to work with you, work with this board, and work with this community,” Wortham said. “I’m excited about what we can do together.”
She comes to East Ramapo from Roosevelt UFSD, the only school district in the state that has been under the state’s control for the past 12 years.
“When you look at what has to be done, simultaneously we need to get the instruction in place, we need to address the instruction of our students in our classrooms,” she said. “This is a call for me to take action with the board, with the community, all working together. They can’t do it in isolation.”
The change was long overdue, Get Up, Stand Up: East Ramapo co-founder Eric Grossfeld said.
“I’m thrilled that this diverse community will finally have representation within the district’s leadership,” Grossfeld said. “Dr. Wortham, in addition to bringing an impressive educational background, respects the dignity of the human being and seeks to empower all children. If only the same were true for the board of education.”