The Wall Street Journal and the N.Y. Times both report today on the East Ramapo school district in Rockland County, where the school board is comprised entirely of Orthodox Jewish men who have “ripped the heart out of the academic program” in the public schools in order to pay the costs of transporting 24,000 children to yeshivas and and, also, to cover the costs of special education services in yeshivas, or Jewish day schools.
Taking N.J.’s lead, the State has appointed a fiscal monitor which, according to the Journal, amounts to “the strongest state intervention in a New York district in more than a decade.”
More from the Journal:
New York State Education Department officials have said in recent years that the district broke the law by placing too many Orthodox and Hasidic special-needs children in private religious schools at public expense.
The district, which has a $211 million budget this academic year, has run serial deficits. Since 2009 the board made sharp reductions in public schools, such as cutting 400 teachers and other staff, slashing sports and arts and eliminating advanced courses, the report found. In the past, the board president blamed the cuts on the recession, property tax cap and the state-aid formula’s inability to meet his district’s unique needs.
Mr. Greenberg said the board violated open public meetings laws by spending most of its sessions behind closed doors, and district officials frequently branded critics as anti-Semitic, exacerbating tensions between the private and public school families. He said seven out of nine board members represent the private school community.
Meanwhile, Lakewood remains, well, Lakewood. In other words, a lot like East Ramapo. It is currently facing investigations into fiscal and ethical malfeasance by the ACLU, the NAACP, and the FBI while the almost entirely poor Hispanic enrollment gets by with bupkes.
More trivially, Lakewood’s school board, controlled by the Orthodox Jewish community, continues to violate OPRA laws by failing to disseminate public meeting minutes within 30 days, although it’s better than it used to be. For example, the most recent meeting minutes available now is from this past August. On that agenda the board approved about sixty placements at a Jewish special education school called SCHI (School for Children with Hidden Intelligence). Lakewood usually sends about 120 kids there a year, or the entire enrollment of the school, SCHI also happens to have one of the highest tuitions in the state for private special education schools. The costs of those 60 placements, which don’t cover transportation or required summer programming, will cost Lakewood about $4,783,968, because each day’s tuition is $442.96. Also, 21 of those students require a one-on-one aide, per diem $133.33, or another half a million dollars per year. But whose counting? (Hopefully, the fiscal monitor.)