After a three-hour debate described as "heated," the New York State Assembly passed a bill that would see a state monitor with veto power put in place to provide fiscal and other oversight for the scandal-plagued haredi-controlled East Ramapo school district.
Bill Authorizing State Monitor For Scandal-Plagued Haredi-Controlled School District Passes State Assembly
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
After a three-hour debate described as "heated," the New York State Assembly passed a bill that would see a state monitor with veto power put in place to provide fiscal and other oversight for the scandal-plagued haredi-controlled East Ramapo school district, the Journal News reported.
The Democratic-sponsored bill passed the Assembly by a 80-56 margin. However, it faced stiff opposition not only from Republicans, but also from some Democrats – “particularly Orthodox Jewish lawmakers,” according to the Journal News.
Democrats have 104 out of 150 Assembly seats.
"I think the real concern here is the voice of the people. The whole idea of a board of education is to be elected by the people so the school district in the community is a reflection and is the response to what the people in the district want,” Republican Assemblywoman Jane Corwin said.
The bill’s sponsors, Rockland County’s Ellen Jaffee and Kenneth Zebrowski, represent the area covered by the East Ramapo school district. Jaffee said her bill was a “modified approach” to dealing with the widespread issues of malfeasance by the East Ramapo school board.
"This was a much more modified approach to responding to what is a very serious situation - not a takeover, not the removal of the board – but an opportunity for guidance and interaction and collaboration," Jaffee reportedly said.
A state report issued last November documented repeated violations of state open meetings law by the school board along with a long list of other alleged discriminatory behaviors and financial improprieties. The board is dominated by haredim whose children attend private religious schools, and the only non-Jews or non-haredim on the board were elected on a slate backed by haredim.
9,000 district children – almost all Black and Latino – attend district public schools. Many more children attend private schools, and almost all of them are haredi.
State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a right-wing Orthodox Brooklyn Democrat who represents a large haredi constituency (and who is widely viewed as inflammatory), lashed out at the bill and implied anti-Semitism, not the clearly documented failings of the haredi-dominated school board, was behind the move to pass the bill.
"The only place in New York that needs a special monitor that is basically going to be a dictatorship? That's what it is," said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn. "The school board? You might as well get rid of the school board. There is no purpose. No one has done anything malicious. No one has done anything vicious,” Hikind – who several years ago was caught wearing blackface and NBA attire as a Purim costume – reportedly said.
Black and Latino State Assembly members spoke in favor of the bill, with some very candidly implying racial discrimination played a role in the board’s questionable decisions.
"You know that the yeshiva schools benefited at the expense of the Black and Latino students that make up the public schools. Let's call it for what it is. Let's be honest,” Assemblyman Charles Barron, D-Brooklyn, reportedly said.
The Republican-controlled State Senate still needs to vote on the bill and pass it before it become law.
Governor Andrew Cuomo,a Democrat, said last week that he supports the bill and would like to see it pass.