The Puppeteers and the String Masters – Does it Really End with the ERCSD School Board? Likely Not.

What Other Schemes are These Puppeteers Orchestrating and Who is Being Manipulated? Some thoughts…

Dear Reader:

At what point does the activity in the Haredi community of Rockland County, New York and those who control the East Ramapo Central School District cross the line from what is now a civil litigation into the acts, conduct or omissions that engender criminal behavior? And when does that get prosecuted? Perjury is only the beginning.

This question is not being asked because the bad actors involved are Haredi Jews. To the contrary, a response is demanded in spite of a religion which does not espouse to this contemptible behavior.  The Haredi men who have run the school board for the last fifteen or so years, who place non-Haredim on strings to be puppeteered at their will, are not behaving like Jews. They are behaving like liars and criminals. They are engaging in conduct unbecoming the garb that they wear or the religious beliefs to which they claim to adhere.

Because they are Jewish, they are making every Jew look bad. Because they wear the cloak of religious observance, they are giving those people unable to understand the unique nuances of Judaism a reason, founded in behavior, to hate Jews.

Finally, they have perpetrated a fraud. They  have, by way of school bonds,  borrowed money, sold school buildings for pennies on the dollar (to their own Yeshivas). They have defunded a school system, disenfranchised children, and manipulated others acting in good faith to do the same. That is by its very nature criminal and if not, perhaps there are laws that could be deemed to have been broken (like the encumbering of assets to obtain bonds) the violation of which paves the way for criminal prosecution.  

We ask Letisha James to look to this case and to our commentary from your election and use it as a basis to not only rethink your position as a pawn for the aims and goals of the Haredi community, but also to look yourself in the mirror and ask whether you really want to be mastered by a puppeteer.

You are smart. You are a woman. You are a woman of color. Is it not time that you set aside what those who funded your campaign would want in favor of what those within your own community need, namely justice.

We then ask that you take on issues, like lying in court, orchestrating what might otherwise be deemed a fraud on an entire community and so many others and find ways to prosecute the perpetrators.

Harry Grossman May Have Sunk All Credibility In The Operations Of Hasidic Controlled School Board

“All I’m saying is don’t trust the man 100% when you know he’s lying,” U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel told David Butler, an attorney for the East Ramapo Central School District.

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NAACP v. East Ramapo, Remove Religion from the Mix, Still Segregation Problem, New Jersey’s Englewood Example

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The Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Tenafly Example – No Right to Segregated Education.

The East Ramapo battle playing out in the courts is, writ small a discrimination case against a board in its nominating practices. The NAACP is claiming that the Board of Education has rigged the system so private school parents have a disproportionately large number of seats on the public school board. Writ large, however, the battle is ultimately one of segregation, allowing a community of white children to obtain significant funding and school budgeting allotments to the detriment of a largely minority public school system. This has played out before. 

The battle of what happens when you remove white children from a largely minority, people of color and Hispanic/Latino school system has played out in many districts, in many fora. The closest comparison between Rockland County, New York is one to a battle that played out for years, from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990’s just down the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Englewood Cliffs,  New Jersey.

The fact that the white children of Rockland County, New York are ultra-Orthodox is largely irrelevant. The issue is segregation. Is the State of New York prepared to allow a community to be segregated, if not foster that segregation; and is it willing to disenfranchise a public school system of largely minority children to do so? In New Jersey, the Commissioner of Education and the Courts were not:

One need look no further than the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Topeka, [347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873 (1954)] to support the ALJ’s reliance upon evidence dealing not only with “material loss,” i.e., reduction in course offering, effect on curriculum, loss of teaching staff, but also an assessment of impact on the psychosocial dimension of education referred to in this case as “symbolic loss.” Notwithstanding the fact that DMHS is not all minority, it is, as previously stated, substantially imbalanced racially; thus, the following passage from the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown has no less bearing in this matter than if DMHS were all minority. It states: Segregation … in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to *445 deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system. …. [T]he Commissioner rejects the Cliffs Board’s arguments that attempt to justify severance because DMHS was an inferior educational facility at the time the petition was filed and should not, therefore, be held harmless from that. It is clear from the record that this case has been heavily immersed in an effort to cast DMHS as an inferior school, not worthy of its students. It is equally clear that the record does not support this position.
As to the Tenafly tuition policy, the Commissioner agreed with the ALJ that while it did not violate the law, it is “clearly contrary to public policy … and cannot be allowed to stand”:
Although the policy is, on its face, not discriminatory and although it was not adopted for improper motives, this does not mean that it should be allowed to stand insofar as the Cliffs and Englewood Boards are concerned, for the record has made it abundantly clear that the effect of the policy has been exactly what the ALJ denounces, namely, to exacerbate racial imbalance at DMHS by skimming off and luring students who are eligible to attend DMHS. Thus, in that sense it is “repugnant” and a “beggar-thy-neighbor” policy as it affects DMHS.

To provide a very oversimplified background, for years, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, a largely white and affluent district without its own high school had a sending-receiving relationship with Englewood, New Jersey’s Dwight Morrow High School. Englewood was far more heterogeneous a community with a large majority of the students from families of color, Hispanic/Latino and other ethnic groups. Within a contractual setting, Englewood would receive public school children from the Cliffs with a percentage of the tax money sent to cover the costs per children. Cliffs’ children of high school age who chose to remain in the public school system were bused to Englewood after 8th grade. 

At the time, Alpine, New Jersey’s children were being sent by similar sending/receiving agreement to Tenafly, New Jersey a more homogeneous community with socio-economic ties that had a greater resemblance to Englewood Cliffs’, also mostly white and Asian community. During the early 80’s parents in Englewood Cliffs began, with greater frequency to leave the district before high school, to remove kids to parochial schools or to send them to either Elizabeth Morrow or Dwight Englewood, both private schools. At the time, busing was not provided to private schools; but rather it was arranged within the tuition paid. Busing was, however, provided to public school children who attended Dwight Morrow as part of the public school sending/receiving relationship.

In and around the early 80’s Englewood Cliffs began negotiating a contractual sending/receiving relationship with Tenafly, New Jersey, with the thought that the Cliffs would sever its relationship with Englewood. As a backdrop, Tenafly also began accepting students on a tuition-paid basis to give the Englewood Cliffs’ parents different options.

Englewood fought back, filing a series of actions with the New Jersey Commisioner of Education. All of the actions were based in pertinent part on the resulting reduction in white students, segregation and the detriment to the children of Englewood. To put it simply, Englewood claimed that even though the numbers of Cliffs children who were remaining in public school after the 8th grade were dwindling,  the loss of services to the children of Englewood, the reduction in classes which were at that time very diverse and team sport enrollment outweighed the benefit of the small population wanting only to be more homogeneous. In addition, and particularly relevant, they argued that no one had the “right to segregate” which was effectively what the Cliffs’ parents were doing when sending their kids to Tenafly by tuition. 

The Commissioner stated:

In Booker, the Supreme Court said that “children must learn to respect and live with one another in multi-racial and multi-cultural communities and the earlier they do so the better.” 45 N.J. at 170, 212 *480 A.2d 1. It also declared that the Commissioner has a duty to ensure that such learning occurs in schools that are not de facto segregated and that he must not only eliminate schools that are “entirely or almost entirely Negro,” 45 N.J. at 178, 212 A.2d 1, but must also achieve “the greatest dispersal consistent with sound educational values and procedures.” Id. at 180, 212 A.2d 1. By focusing on Booker’s “multi-racial and multi-cultural” reference instead of the principle of “greatest dispersal”, it seems to us that the State Board recast the expansive holding of Booker as the far more limited holding that achieving some minimal racial and cultural diversity will suffice. In so doing, the State Board eviscerated Booker’s explicit ban on school segregation. If it had taken no further action, we would likely have intervened on this issue, at least to the extent of requiring an explanation of what educational values and procedures the State Board viewed as counter-balancing the need for greatest dispersal. Because of the later developments, it is unnecessary for us to do so.

Even within that backdrop, the State of New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education still dismantled the idea of changing the relationship between Englewood and Englewood Cliffs on the grounds it would only serve to segregate the children and would ultimately come at a high price to Englewood’s children.   

In the early 1990’s the issue again came to light when Englewood decided to close some elementary schools and move 8th grade to the high school. With the Englewood Cliffs Elementary School ending in 8th grade, this created a mismatch. And yet, the Commissioner of Education and the courts were still not moved; and the issue of regionalizing high schools was raised, also not moving the Commissioner.

Cliffs complains that, even if the State Board properly denied its petition for severance, it exceeded its authority in enjoining Tenafly and other non-party school districts from accepting Cliffs’ students on a tuition basis. With respect to Tenafly, Cliffs claims that the State Board’s injunction violated Tenafly’s statutory right to exercise discretion as to which interdistrict students it accepts. It also argues that enjoining the THS tuition program will in no way increase the white student population at DMHS. Cliffs also asserts that the State Board’s injunction denies due process to any school district not joined as a party.
The Commissioner has broad constitutional and legislative powers concerning public education. N.J.S.A. 18A:4-10; Piscataway Tp. Bd. of Educ. v. Burke, supra, 158 N.J. Super. at 441, 386 A.2d 439. These powers must be interpreted sufficiently expansively to correspond with his “high responsibilities” in the education field. Jenkins, supra, 58 N.J. at 504, *474 279 A.2d 619. N.J.S.A. 18A:4-16 concomitantly confers on the State Board all necessary powers “requisite to the performance of its duties.” Clearly, under appropriate circumstances, injunctive relief is a power available to the State Board. Bd. of Educ. of Asbury Park v. Bds. of Educ. of Shore Regional High School District, 1971 S.L.D. 221, aff’d, 1971 S.L.D. 228 (1971). Indeed, Cliffs concedes this theoretical power, arguing instead that the injunction was improvidently granted in this case because an injunction, the so-called “strong arm of equity,” is an extraordinary remedy not justified by the facts. Van Name v. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp., 130 N.J. Eq. 433, 442-43, 23 A.2d 261 (Ch. 1941), aff’d, 132 N.J. Eq. 302, 28 A.2d 210 (E. & A. 1942). We disagree.
Here, we have affirmed the State Board’s determination that the Tenafly tuition policy had a serious negative impact on the racial balance at DMHS. As Tenafly’s non-indigenous population increased, the situation at DMHS worsened. Tenafly not only “lured” and “enticed” Cliffs’ students by its “beggar-thy-neighbor” policy, and in doing so syphoned off a disproportionate number of high achievers, but also attracted white and Asian Englewood students. Given those findings, the effectuation of the State’s constitutional policy in favor of racial balance as a function of the quality of education not only authorized but compelled an injunction against Tenafly. See In re Solid Waste Util. Customer Lists, 106 N.J. 508, 516, 524 A.2d 386 (1987). As to the other school districts (none of which has complained), the State Board’s directive was a necessary adjunct to the injunction against Tenafly. Without the directive, the State Board could not ensure total compliance with the educational goals it sought to achieve. Most importantly, the injunction was a critical element of the State Board’s attempt to remedy the problem at DMHS by using the least intrusive means. Given the history of this case, a laissez faire attitude, without an injunction, would have doomed these means to failure.
*475 VIII
While a sending-receiving relationship is essentially an education services-for-tuition exchange made between two districts, that arrangement does not alter the structural integrity of either district. Regionalization, on the other hand, involves the formation of an entirely new school district governed by a separate board of education. See Jenkins, supra, 58 N.J. at 504-05, 508, 279 A.2d 619. Regional districts can be formed for all purposes or for limited purposes. N.J.S.A. 18A:13-2. Among the “limited purposes” is the organization of a regional district to operate a high school or high schools only. Englewood has petitioned for the creation of a regional high school district including it, Cliffs and Tenafly. The effect of such a regional district here would be to transfer control over DMHS and THS to a regional school board.
The authority for cross-district regionalization arises out of Jenkins where the Supreme Court expanded on the Booker principle of intra-district regionalization:
It is true that Booker dealt with a community which was wholly contained within a single district fixed by municipal lines whereas here the community involves two districts. …. As the Supreme Court pointed out in Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, [575] 84 S. Ct. 1362, [1388] 12 L. Ed. 2d 506, 535 (1964), political subdivisions of the state whether they be “counties, cities or whatever” are not “sovereign entities” and may readily be bridged when necessary to vindicate federal constitutional rights and policies. See Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 339, 347, 81 S. Ct. 125, 5 L. Ed. 2d 110, 116 (1960); United States v. State of Texas, 321 F. Supp. 1043, 1050-1058 (E.D.Texas 1970); cf. Jackman, et al. v. Bodine, et al., 55 N.J. 371 [262 A.2d 389] (1970). It seems clear to us that, similarly, governmental subdivisions of the state may readily be bridged when necessary to vindicate state constitutional rights and policies. This does not entail any general departure from the historic home rule principles and practices in our State in the field of education or elsewhere; but it does entail suitable measures of power in our State authorities for fulfillment of the educational and racial policies embodied in our State Constitution and in its implementing legislation. Surely if those policies and the views firmly expressed by this Court in Booker (45 N.J. 161 [212 A.2d 1]) and now reaffirmed are to be at all meaningful, the State Commissioner must have power to cross district lines to avoid “segregation in fact” (Booker, 45 N.J. at 168 [212 A.2d 1]), at least where, as here, there *476 are no impracticalities and the concern is not with multiple communities but with a single community without visible or factually significant internal boundary separations. [Jenkins, 58 N.J. at 500-01, 279 A.2d 619].

The relevant case Englewood Cliffs v. Englewood, 257 N.J. Super 413 (1992) can be found here.

A report on the the NAACP v. East Ramapo Central School Distrrict, 18-3481 (2d Cir. 2019) can be found here.

A News brief one NAACP v. East Ramapo can be found here.