A New York State judge ruled that the state’s Education Commissioner, John King, acted correctly when he voided a rental agreement of an East Ramapo public school building to a New Square hasidic group at below market rate.
Judge Upholds State Ruling Against Haredi-Controlled Scandal-Plagued School Board
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
On Wednesday, a New York State judge ruled that the state’s Education Commissioner, John King, acted correctly when he voided a rental agreement of an East Ramapo public school building to a New Square hasidic group at below market rate, the Journal News reported.
“In sum, this court finds that the Commissioner’s determination was wholly rational and was not arbitrary and capricious or affected by an error of law,” Acting Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough wrote.
King’s July 2013 decision said that the haredi-controlled scandal-plagued school district gave Congregation Avir Yakov a sweetheart lease on the former Hillcrest Elementary School that was well below market-rate rent.
The hasidic group was paying $21,000 per month rent and was getting other considerations from the district as part of the deal.
The court’s action should mean the lease nullification will go into effect as soon as the the paperwork is completed.
Avir Yakov has been using the former Hillcrest building since August 2011.
The haredi-controlled school district closed the Hillcrest School shortly before that, claiming that public school enrollment was declining.
But it wasn’t.
East Ramapo’s public school population has increased, not declined. But the public school budget has been deeply slashed due to pressure from large haredi voting blocs that have repeatedly voted against any tax increases to fund public schools and through haredi control over the school board itself.
East Ramapo’s attorneys reportedly claimed that voiding Avir Yaakov’s lease and the lost rental income which would ensue would force the school district to fire public school teachers and cut back services even further. lawyers have said cancellation of the lease would cause “irreparable harm” to the district, forcing it to fire teachers and cut educational programs to make up for lost rental revenue and increased building maintenance costs.
The school district is now trying to sell the former Hillcrest School.