Hudson Valley Students And Parents Respond To Standardized Tests

030312_protest_1373725aEvidence of disapproval of the common core standardized testing is present in the numbers of Hudson Valley 3rd through 8th grade students who opted out of the English Language Arts tests Tuesday. In a report by The Journal News, 25 Districts responded for comment to report numbers of their students opting out with two districts reporting 50% refused testing, eight districts reported more than 30%, and fourteen other districts reported at least 15% refused to take the tests. North Rockland saw 63% middle school students refusing and 50% of Ramapo Central middle school students refused.
Jonathan Burman, spokesman for the state Education Department expressed the needs of students being ignored by opting out of testing,”Test refusal is a mistake because it eliminates important information about how our kids are doing. Those who call for opting out really want New York to opt out of information that can help parents and teachers understand how well their students are doing.” Burman also commented that sanctions for test absence would be dependent on the degree and length of time that each district failed to meet the 95% participation requirement. School administrators believe this result to be expected with such strong opposition felt throughout the community spearheaded by teacher unions and education advocacy groups.

New Jersey H.S. Teacher From Warwick Charged For Relationship With Minor

donald-dewitt65 Year-Old Donald DeWitt of Warwick, long time biology teacher at Bergen County Academies High School in Hackensack, New Jersey, was arrested Monday for engaging in a sexual relationship with a 16 year-old student. In a Press Release by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Dewitt is “charged with attempted sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal sexual contact.” The alleged relationship was discovered by the victim’s sister who informed their mother of the emails she found on her computer. The mother then reported her discovery to the police and on Monday, the victim was interviewed by detectives where she provided details of their illicit relationship. Dewitt is held at the Bergen County Jail for $300,000 bail. Bergen County Technical Schools Superintendent Howard Lerner is quoted as saying, The district takes this matter very seriously and will be cooperating fully with the police during the course of the investigation, however not specifying if Dewitt had been suspended.

Congers Son Charged In Beating Death Of Father

B9316960761Z_1_20150413135022_000_GL0AGANCN_1-0Clarkstown Police reported that 61 year-old Ismael Alicea of Congers, was pronounced dead at his home early this morning after responding to a domestic incident at 79 Ohio Avenue. The cause of death was bludgeoning, placing Alicea’s son, Steven, 33, in custody charged with murder in the 2nd degree. Alicea was arraigned this afternoon and held at Rockland County Jail, pleading not guilty to the murder charge. Justice Scott Ugell ordered a psychiatric evaluation to be conducted later today as Clarkstown Police continue their investigation.

Chestnut Ridge Resident Victim in New Jersey Shooting

According to a Bergen county Prosecutor a Chestnut Ridge resident was the victim of a shooting in New Jersey on Sunday night. John L. Molinelli stated that the shooting took place at the Route 46 business Clean Sweep Chimney Depot in South Hackensack and the victim is the owner, 51-year old Richard Ziarello of Chestnut Ridge, who was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center for treatment to critical injuries. Police are investigating the cause, with suspicions appearing that it may have been a robbery and are searching for a suspect. Limited information has been released, but officials stated that Ziarello is in grave condition.

Nyack College Softball Coach Arrested for Inappropriate Touching

According to South Nyack Police a former softball coach at Nyack College was arrested on Thursday for inappropriately touching more than ten players on the team. Police stated that 43-year old Kurt Ludwigsen was hired by the college in September and fired in March after he was accused by the girls and their parents of unwanted touching and kissing on the mouth. After further investigations into the claims, Ludwigsen was charged with 45 counts of inappropriate touching, 49 counts of harassment, and one count of sexual abuse. The Ridgewood, New Jersey resident, where he lives with his family, is being held on $15,000 bail until his next court date on April 13, while the former coach will be taking over the remainder of the season, or until a new head coach is found.

Children Playing on 9/11 Memorial; County Executive Speaks Out

According to a story that is circulating online and through local media sources, a family was recorded allowing their children to climb and play on the 9/11 Memorial at Haverstraw Bay County Park. The photo shows the Hasidic Jewish family viewing the memorial while behind them their children are sitting on top of part of the installment. It was first seen online and sparked outrage among residents and visitors paying their respects to loved ones and those lost in the September 11 terrorist attacks. One couple stated to News 12 that they often visit their son’s name at the memorial and have seen this type of behavior before. The outcry led County Executive Ed Day to release a statement on his FaceBook page stating, “The ethnic makeup of the family in question is not what matters here. What matters, and what I would ask everyone to focus on, is the desecration of this sacred site.” He went on to say that he will be working with the Parks and Sheriff’s Departments to create signage or ways to ensure there is respect. The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council released a statement against the County Executive’s remarks stating, “Ed Day and his son Chris Day both adapted the photo to post it simultaneously as new posts on their respective FaceBook pages; thus generating more hate comments against Orthodox Jews.” The statement also referenced a recent video titled “The Jew in Rockland”, which compares the secular rift in Rockland County and hateful comments made on social media to Nazi Germany, and most county officials’ calls to remove it. Visitors of the memorial all appear to agree that the main issue is that there was a lack of respect surrounding the place of remembrance.

Lacey Spears Sentenced To 20 Years To Life

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary sentenced Lacey Spears to 20 years to life in Westchester County Court today. On March 2, a jury found Spears guilty of second-degree murder in the poisoning death of her 5 year-old son Garnett. Spears faced up to 25 years to life in prison, the maximum penalty for the crime with the prosecution citing her “depraved, despicable, and evil” actions to seek this out. Defense attorney David Sachs brought forward letters of support from family as he requested the minimum of 15 years to life, maintaining her innocence from the start of trial. Justice Neary believed Spears to be suffering from Munchausen by proxy, a rare syndrome that may have accounted for her actions. After sentencing, Spears’ defense attorneys found the sentencing, “curious” as there had been no evidence presented regarding Spears’ mental illness.

South Nyack and Thruway Work To Find Location for Walkway

Officials with the Thruway Authority and Village of South Nyack met last week, with Executive Director Robert Megna recently releasing a statement that the two parties are working to compromise on the location of a bike and walking path for the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Currently the plans are to put the entry to the path in a residential area, which many residents and village officials have taken a stand against, many stating that the excessive amount of visitors to the bridge’s walkway will lead to traffic and parking problems. According to officials the village and Thruway are working on finding a resolution, one proposal being the use of Exit 10 off the Thruway as an entrance, when it is finished being used as a construction site. Recently South Nyack received a grant for $250,000 to complete a study on traffic patterns and accessibility of Exit 10. The Thruway Authority has completed a study that estimates about 473 people will be visiting the path per hour.

Police: Phone Scam Erased Woman’s Computer Files

phone-scamThe Clarkstown Police Department issued a Fraud Alert on their facebook page today that details an incident involving the deletion of a woman’s computer information due to a fraudulent phone scheme. According to the facebook post, a caller from an unknown number told the women that her computer had been hacked by Russian thieves and that by granting remote access and paying him $3,000 to 5,000, he could save her computer files. When she refused, the caller then deleted the contents from her computer. Nothing could be retrieved when she attempted help from ‘Apple Care.’ The Police department’s alert warned against trusting just anyone with remote access to a computer and to contact local authorities if they had been victim to an internet or computer scheme.

Chair of the Legislature Speaks Out About Controversial Video

Rockland County Chairman of the Legislature Alden Wolfe recently spoke out about the controversy surrounding a video released in March titled “The Jew in Rockland”, which compares a local FaceBook page to Nazi propaganda in the early days of the holocaust in Germany. Wolfe stated on Monday that the FaceBook, called “Block the Block” shows “hostility toward the Orthodox community in Rockland County.” According to Wolfe the creator of the page, James Foley, is a county employee, working as a social worker in the Mental Health Department. Speaking with the Journal News Foley stated that he does not represent the county’s opinions and while he does not use the social media site at work he did not give up his right to free speech when he became employed by Rockland. Wolfe called on County Executive Ed Day to ensure that the county’s employees are using their work hours efficiently. Day stated in response, “While Chairman Wolfe focuses on FaceBook, I and other responsible leaders of all faiths are still wondering why, over two weeks later, he has yet to join us in condemning a video that compares his county to Nazi Germany. It is the view of many that is an abdication of his responsibility as an elected official. This particular matter was assessed weeks ago and it is shocking that he is unaware that existing county policy governs the use of social media. He can be assured that while he is away from his part time Legislative job, I am ensuring that all our employees are ‘performing their duties properly’.”

Snow Closings Updated Regularly

Please click on the image below to view all snow closings for Rockland County.