Despite having overwhelming support from members of the Rockland County, New York legislature, a resolution expressing support for a state bill (Senate Bill 3821 and Assembly Bill 5355) to appoint a formal state fiscal monitor to oversee the scandal-plagued haredi-controlled East Ramapo school district has died in committee after Aaron Wieder (right) rallied support from like-minded committee members to block it.
Resolution To Support State Bills Calling For Oversight Of Scandal-Plagued Haredi-Controlled School Board Dies In Committee, Despite Wide County Legislature Support
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Despite having overwhelming support from members of the Rockland County, New York legislature, a resolution expressing support for a state bill (Senate Bill 3821 and Assembly Bill 5355) to appoint a formal state fiscal monitor to oversee the scandal-plagued haredi-controlled East Ramapo school district died in committee, the Rockland Times reported.
The resolution was supported by three of Multi-Services Committee six members, but needed a minimum of a 4-2 to advance out of committee.
Committee members Aney Paul, Lon Hofstein and Toney Earl reportedly voted for the resolution.
Committee members Ilan Schoenberger, Philip Soskin and Aron Wieder voted against it. Wieder is a controversial hasidic politician. Soskin is Orthodox. Schoenberger has lived in Rockland County since he was a young teen and has long career in local public service.
Wieder has led local efforts to block state legislation appointing a fiscal monitor and has repeatedly implied many non-Jewish locals who oppose the East Ramapo school board – which was excoriated in a recent report by temporary state monitor Hank Greenberg – are anti-Semitic, even though many of those opponents are themselves Jewish.
“I, for one, and I am only speaking for myself, will stand up for civil and voting rights for citizens of this county,” Wieder – who claims the appointment of a fiscal monitor would be unconstitutional and anti-democratic – said. Wieder reportedly doubled down on those allegations and “strongly alluded to the fact that the board was predominantly made up of Orthodox Jews who sent their children to private schools and suggested strong opposition to the board was due to its makeup,” the Rockland Times reported.
Ilan Schoenberger, who voted with Wieder to block the resolution in committee, reportedly echoed some of those allegations while claiming he supports limited oversight short of a state fiscal monitor.
“I will support a law that supports what I believe will do the right thing, not the unconstitutional thing,” Schoenberger, an attorney, said.
County Legislator Nancy Low-Hogan pooh-poohed that reasoning.
“The monitor is not there to run the district. The monitor is there to monitor the district,” Low-Hogan said.
Last month, 13 Rockland County legislators signed a joint letter to state representatives endorsing added state oversight for East Ramapo schools, including the appointment of a fiscal monitor.
As the state bills making that possible wind their way through the state legislative process, the haredi-controlled East Ramapo school board suddenly decided to restore $1.2 million previously cut from the schools’ budget through a 1.26% tax levy increase. The new school district budget is scheduled for a public vote May 19.
Rockland County was a bucolic suburb of New York City. But the exponential growth of its haredi community has brought high density housing while at the same time driving out many longtime non-haredi residents. That in turn has seen homes illegally subdivided into rooming houses to house low income workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants from places like Mexico and Central America, or converted into illegal haredi schools. The county's Caribbean and African American populations have also grown, creating a highly multicultural county.
Public school students in East Ramapo, the epicenter of haredi settlement in Rockland County, are now overwhelmingly non-Jewish and minority because the haredi community sends its children to private religious schools. The haredi community also tends to vote against tax increases for the public schools and tends to endorse drastic cuts in the public schools' budget.
And, unlike the other communities in the county, the haredi community often bloc votes – meaning its already sizable political power is increased dramatically.