The New York Civil Liberties Union recently filed a suit against East Ramapo, New York. The town school board has been almost completely captured by members of the Orthodox Jewish Community, whose children attend private religious schools. The school board uses its power to strip the budget for the students who attend public schools, who are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic.

Teacher Bianca Tanis, a member of the board of directors of New York State Allies for Public Education, here describes this shameful situation and calls on the Nee York State United Teachers to take action to protect the children of the East Ramapo District.

She writes:

“96% of public school students in the East Ramapo Central School District are Black and Latino while 98% of the students attending private schools are white with most attending private religious schools. Only one of the nine Board of Education seats is held by a public school parent. Needless to say, the Board of Education has NOT acted in the best interest of East Ramapo’s 8,500 public school students.

“The New York Civil Liberties union found that between 2009 and 2014 the East Ramapo Board of Education slashed funding to public schools and eliminated 200 teaching positions in addition to cutting numerous social workers and other key personnel.

“According the the NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman, “The East Ramapo school district has effectively disenfranchised the Black and Latino community and allowed white residents to hijack the school board in service of the lily-white private schools. The East Ramapo school board has brazenly diverted taxpayer funds to bankroll white private schools and destabilize public schools. Their policies have compromised the education and well-being of thousands of Black and Latino children. The disenfranchisement and degradation must end.”

“What is happening in East Ramapo is tragic. I have seen it with my own eyes…

“The NYCLU lawsuit demands that the board stop holding elections until a “ward” system is adopted. This would introduce voting on the basis of geographic districts; there would be nine individual districts, with one member elected to the board from each district.”

This situation did not develop overnight. The Regents and the legislature have allowed it to fester, while the children of East Ramapo are cheated.