Parents, NYCLU rally in Albany to demand changes in E. Ramapo schools

The group is calling on state lawmakers to enact districtwide reforms to help improve learning conditions and graduation rates.

Blaise Gomez

May 7, 2024, 11:54 AM

Updated 20 days ago

Share:

Dozens of East Ramapo parents and activists rallied in Albany Tuesday to demand changes within the largely minority school district.
The group, including representatives with the New York Civil Liberties Union, stood inside the Senate lobby at the state Capitol holding banners and chanting.
“It’s one of the only public school districts in the state that’s growing, and yet the local voting body is not moving to educate their neighbors, not moving to improve the system that they all live in,” says Johana Miller, NYCLU director of education policy.
Miller says voters have not passed a school budget in East Ramapo for a decade, resulting in funding loss. She says a large portion of district funds are being used to pay for a $75 million transportation budget, which is the most expensive transportation system outside of New York City in New York state.
The group is calling on state lawmakers to enact districtwide reforms to help improve learning conditions and graduation rates.
“This is a school district, outside of New York City, with the highest proportion of both English language learners and homeless students,” Miller says. “Unfortunately, the district does not have enough money or appropriate governance to serve those student needs, and as a result, it’s become one of the highest dropout factories in the state.”
Miller says East Ramapo has a 1 in 5 dropout rate.
East Ramapo Central School District Superintendent of Schools Dr. Clarence Ellis issued a statement about concerns:
“The East Ramapo Central School District applauds the efforts of community members who, we understand, rallied at the New York State Capitol seeking additional support and aid for the District. The District is facing the most severe budget challenges it has ever faced. We all must work collaboratively. Locally, the Board of Education has adopted a 2024-25 budget. It goes to voters May 21. Through the budget, the Board ensured student facing-programs throughout all East Ramapo schools were maintained. A successful budget will enable that to happen.”
Activists also expressed immediate concerns with deteriorating buildings and the presence of lead in student drinking water. They want lawmakers to appoint a local governance board to represent school families.
“Even though it’s just one place in Rockland County, it’s all of our concern,” says Miller.


More from News 12