According to police a Spring Valley woman was arrested after allegedly leaving her son tied to a bush outside of an apartment building where she was babysitting. Police stated that around 9:00 AM Tuesday morning 22-year old Mery Quinde-Castro was working for a family at Blueberry Hill Condominiums in Spring Valley when she left her son unattended and tied to a bush outside using a leash tied to a backpack. The woman claimed that she was only gone for a minute though witnesses reported to police that it was over a half-hour, and officials stated that the child could not be seen or heard from the apartment. Quinde-Castro was charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child, after neighbors called the police when they spotted the boy alone. Police believed that the mother was having trouble finding child care for her son, who family described as energetic and often needing to be on a leash for his safety. She was released on $2,500 bail after arraignment.
Police arrested an Orangeburg man on Saturday for stealing copper pipes. According to Orangetown Police 47-year old William Teitz was spotted walking out of a building on the campus of the Rockland Psychiatric Center carrying copper pipes that he had allegedly broke in and cut them from the walls. Teitz was arrested on a felony charge of third-degree burglary, as well as misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief, possession of burglar tools, possession of stolen property, and conspiracy. He was arraigned and is being held at Rockland County Jail on $10,000 bail.
According to a report by the Journal News the village of Spring Valley is under the threat of shutting down, while officials debate over insurance problems. Mayor Demeza Delhomme told the newspaper that the trustees hired an insurance firm, Bauer-Crowley even though he was in favor of continuing with the village’s usual broker Leonard Binder. The mayor stated that Dennis Lynch, an attorney representing the trustees, has a connection with Bauer-Crowley and that’s the reason why they chose to hire the firm, though Lynch informed the news source that the board was offered a deal to sign on with the firm, lowering the $108,000 binder’s fee to $20,000 and he has no connection with the company outside of the village. Delhomme is now threatening to shut down the village. The board voted last week to review the $2.2 million in insurance coverage and that could be invalidated on Wednesday at 12:00 AM if a shutdown occurs and the mayor has claimed that he will bring the issue to court if it’s not resolved.
On Sunday Morning residents rallied outside of East Ramapo School District Superintendent Joel Klein’s home in New City, where they asked the school official to resign his position. The crowd held handmade signs and chanted “Klein must Resign” to express their frustration of what many believe are bad decisions made by the Orthodox Jewish controlled school board. Many parents have stated that public school students are being ignored when it comes to funding for transportation and programs such as art and music, because the board favors private schools. Last week the State Legislature failed to pass the East Ramapo oversight bill that would have allowed a monitor to veto the boards choices and required the district to follow an improvement plan. The Assembly passed the bill, but the Republican leaders in the senate stated that wary of the legislation because it would set a precedent for other New York districts to take power away from elected board members. Senator David Carlucci, one of the sponsors of the original bill wrote a new bill that took away veto power of the monitor and and gave the comptrollers office more authority while also lowering the time frame from five years to two. The majority of residents and state officials including Assembly members Ellen Jaffee and Kenneth Zebrowski were disappointed in the new bill, and fought for a revised version of the original, which the senate decided to forgo voting on. On Thursday the Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch stated that Klein should resign from his position as Superintendent. And on Sunday parents and students of the district expressed their agreement of those statements, urging Klein to resign.
Late Thursday into early Friday morning, the state Senate and Assembly adjourned without reaching a compromise on the East Ramapo oversight bill much to the disappointment of local officials and maligned community parents and students. Assemblymember Ken Zebrowski commented on the reason the Republican-led Senate stalled any passage by saying, “I think the state Senate leadership turned its back on East Ramapo’s children. We felt we had a sound and reasonable approach to the issue. However, recognizing the Senate’s opposition, we attempted to negotiate. But at the end of the day, the Senate refused to authorize a monitor that had authority over anything other than state or federal law.” Zebrowski along with Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee refused to accept the revised bill brought by the Senate which would limit the state appointed monitor’s power and and override the elected school board. Acknowledging the issues within the district, Republican Senate Majority leader John Flanagan believed that the involvement of the state education department and Comptroller’s office would not infringe on state and federal law but still provide assistance for the troubled district. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie both supported the state appointed monitor and looked to next year’s legislative session to seek out a meaningful solution. The Office of Senator David Carlucci released a statement late Thursday evening regarding the impasse and addressed the two reports from earlier this week which outlined the deficiencies of the East Ramapo education system and his next steps, “Although I am disappointed with the outcome of this year’s legislative session, the report released earlier this week by the State Education Department provides another course of action. I will be strongly urging SED to do what it is legally required to, and act on its own reports of failure within East Ramapo.”
The State Education Department has released three reports on the East Ramapo School District. The effectiveness reports released Monday expressed the need for oversight of the school board, stating that the district has failed when it comes to ESL programs, teacher training and spending. State officials wrote the report after visiting the schools back in December, during which they criticized the many problems in the English Language Learner Program, where students are unable to graduate on time because they spend most of their time completing uncredited ELL classes. The reports issued the district some of the lowest marks in the state for overall education and financial strategies. On Monday evening hundreds of parents met at Memorial Park in Spring Valley to listen to speakers before marching to East Ramapo district offices, in an attempt to get the senate to vote on the oversight bill. Assembly members Ellen Jaffee and Kenneth Zebrowski spoke to the crowd along with Judith Johnson who announced the release of the report and brought to light the inappropriate actions of the board. The Legislature remains in session and late last night they agreed on a deal extending rent regulations for four more years and approved $250 million for non-public schools funding, though no tax credit for private school donors. No information has been released as of yet regarding the passage of the oversight bill.
Hundreds of activists met in support of the controversial East Ramapo oversight bill on Monday evening. Starting at 7:00 at Memorial Park in Spring Valley, members of the community including County Executive Ed Day, State Assembly people Ellen Jaffee and Kenneth Zebrowski, and New York Regent Judith Johnson spoke to the crowd about the need for oversight. The Assembly has already voted to approve the bill that would allow monitor to veto decisions made by the board and would require the district to follow a five year improvement plan. However, according to Senator David Carlucci, who was one of the sponsors of the original bill, the senate recently stated they would not be voting on the legislation, leading him to present a new version that takes away veto power and lessens the oversight time to two years. In response Jaffee and Zebrowski revised their own version as a form of compromise. The rally was held in an attempt to get the Senate to hold a vote today, as they remain in session for the time being. A petition in support of the bill reached 6,000 signatures and the emotion behind the crowd on Monday night was strong as students, parents, and community leaders marched through the streets, ending at the East Ramapo District offices. The Legislature is set to end their session today.
Advocates for the East Ramapo School District will be hosting a rally tonight, while state officials continue debating whether or not to pass the oversight bill presented by Assembly members Kenneth Zebrowski and Ellen Jaffee and Senator David Carlucci that would give a state appointed monitor veto power over board decision. Recently the bill was passed by the Assembly, and was set to move on to a vote in the Senate, though according to Carlucci many members were unwilling to approve the legislation, expressing fears about taking power away from an elected body. In response Carlucci presented a new bill that took away the veto power and lessened the oversight time from five years to two years. Since Carlucci’s proposal many residents have spoken out against the Senate’s choice not to vote and the Assembly presented a revised version of the original law, seeking a compromise. Supporters are holding a rally at Memorial Park in Spring Valley at 7:00 PM where Jaffee and Zebrowski will be addressing the crowd in a final attempt to get the Senate to vote.
Law enforcement officials from the county and state met with the public at a forum on Thursday night, held at Rockland Community College to open discussion between police and minority groups in the county. Nearly a hundred residents filled the audience to express their concern and frustration that the black community has to fear police presence, rather than rely on them. The panel included speakers from the NAACP, the Rockland Commission on Human Rights, the Rockland District Attorney’s Office, and the Rockland Police Chiefs Association. It was set up in the wake of much national tension between police and minority communities such as the case of Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York City; and countless other incidents of use of violence or deadly force. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe spoke to the attendees about the need of communication and relationships between residents and police officers to help community feel safe. Also on the panel were NAACP Mid-Hudson and Westchester Regional Director Wilbur Aldridge and the Assistant Director of the FBI Field Office in New York City Diego Rodriguez, who both agreed with the need of communication and trust on both sides and that African American residents should not have to feel fearful of law enforcement.
Assembly members Ellen Jaffee and Kenneth Zebrowski released statements coming out against the newly proposed East Ramapo oversight bill that takes away the state appointed monitor’s ability to veto decisions made by the district’s school board. They also announced that they wrote a new bill to send to the the senate in hopes of negotiating, which would give the Comptroller a say in fiscal matters only and give veto power back to the monitor. On Sunday Senator David Carlucci introduced a new version of the bill, giving oversight to the state Comptroller’s office in order to compromise with Republican leaders of the senate who did not agree with the original bill. Both Assembly people stated that they do not believe the new legislation would do enough for the district, and involving the Comptroller’s office is unnecessary. They thanked Carlucci for negotiation on behalf of the students, but stated they will not be backing the proposal, which lessens the monitor’s power and changes the time limit of oversight from five years to two. The Assembly passed the original proposal last week 80-60, and with the session ending today supporters of the oversight bill are working to negotiate with the senate members, many of whom have expressed concerns about taking power from officials elected to the school board by the public.