Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
– Quote by Albus Dumbledore
IT IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE TRAGEDY STRIKES
In a miraculous show of vigorous work, after years of complacence and procrastination, most of the Yeshivas on the list of schools requiring inspections by the County of Rockland have magically been completed. The Yeshivas, with the wave Harry Potter’s wand and one of his magic spells, have almost all passed inspections.
Attorney Dennis Lynch, who represents the recently formed School Religious Freedom Coalition , works for the Ramapo and Spring Valley governments and represents about three dozen of the Jewish private schools on the list said:
“all his clients in the coalition should have filed their inspection reports with the state by Wednesday morning, and that the inspections were done by certified fire chiefs as described under state educational law.”
We don’t quite understand. Dennis Lynch is an attorney, paid by the towns of Ramapo and Spring Valley. He represents a lobbying organization called the School Religious Freedom Coalition (which will probably be lobbying both of those towns and the State Education Department). He represents at least three dozen of the yeshivas that needed to be inspected.
That can’t be right. How many hats can one attorney wear?
If the town did not agree to accept the inspections who was Attorney Lynch going to be representing when arguing for his Yeshiva clients, or his town clients or his lobbying clients? Well, he could represent all three at the same time and everyone else could simply go home. That just does not sit well with us.
Who knows? Maybe the Coalition includes the building inspectors, the yeshivas, the lawyer, Rabbi Twersky, his driver, his cook, his baker and the candle-stick maker. The list could go on. It would not matter because Dennis Lynch could actually be representing them all.
We predict that until there is a major tragedy and many, many children are killed, burned or seriously injured, the Yeshivas will hire Attorney Lynch and the equally as conflicted building inspectors who will sidestep the Ramapo building inspection codes, and things will continue status quo. We hope that everyone involved in this fiasco of avoidance and Harry Potter-type wizardry enjoys whatever fees most likely lined their pockets because it is only a matter of time and you are putting children’s lives in danger.
Yeshivas turn to Ramapo for clearance, sidestep county inspections
More than 20 yeshivas targeted by the New York state Education Department for overdue fire-safety inspections turned to Ramapo and Kaser officials this week to get their paperwork done, sidestepping attempts by the county to send its own team into the facilities for review.
Education Department spokeswoman Jeanne Beattie said in an email that 22 schools have filed inspection reports done by either private inspections or Ramapo inspectors. The filings mean the schools won’t be required to be inspected by the county.
The Education Department had deputized Rockland to review between 49 and 53 schools, some of which had not filed fire safety certificates for several years.
Dennis Lynch, the lawyer for the recently-formed School Religious Freedom Coalition, said that come Wednesday, “There could be many yeshivas that Ed Day’s representatives will not have to step foot into” since they have complied with the law.
An irritated Rockland County Executive Ed Day said the Education Department accepted the new reviews even though it had recently criticized Ramapo for its poor record on fire and building code inspections.
Day said he’s been told Ramapo Chief Building Inspector Anthony Mallia and Kaser Building Inspector Bill Press, formerly the New Square inspector, were involved in the new school inspections.
Mallia said in an email he didn’t sign off or personally take part, but acknowledged his staff did.
Thomas Buckley, a retired Ramapo fire inspector hired as town consultant, led the re-inspections ordered by the Education Department of 23 schools first done by an inspector, whose didn’t report violations.
That left 26 schools needing to file fire safety reports with the Education Department. Schools are permitted to hire certified inspectors and didn’t have to wait on the county.
“It’s beyond comprehension that after identifying Ramapo’s inability to properly perform inspections, suddenly their work is approved,” Day said. “We didn’t even get a courtesy call from the state telling us what’s going on.”
Day said the county has 12 schools left on the Education Department list to inspect. He wondered aloud how Ramapo moved so quickly after going years without adequate inspections.
“We seem able to do inspections in the matter of moments, all of a sudden,” Day griped. .
Lynch, who also works as attorney for the Ramapo and Spring Valley governments, said he represents about three dozen Jewish private schools on the list.
He said all his clients in the coalition should have filed their inspection reports with the state by Wednesday morning, and that the inspections were done by certified fire chiefs as described under state educational law.
As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, county fire inspectors led by Rockland Emergency Services Coordinator Gordon Wren Jr., had inspected eight private schools. Wren said some yeshivas had been contacting his office about setting up appointments.
Day said he’s hopeful the remaining schools will allow inspections and there are no violations. Some earlier inspections found schools with dozens of violations, but still safe to operate.
The state education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, and her department have said little since she authorized the Day administration to inspect the schools, even as both sides bickered for more than a week.