RAMAPO, N.Y. – Parents are calling for criminal charges against East Ramapo administrators who were caught on video berating parents and students with profanities as they protested the school board.
“I’m not taking that shit from them,” East Ramapo Town Board member Brendel Logan shouted at protestors outside of her husband’s East Ramapo School Board office building Saturday.
“Get that camera out of my face before I rip it out,” her husband, school board member Bernard Charles, yells at a man recording the altercation, a YouTube video shows.
Police officers are seen holding back protestors, Logan and Charles during different points in the dispute.
“They were saying the S-word, the B-word, and my daughter even said, ‘Oh my God, he is on the school board,” parent protestor Denise DelValle told News 12.
The scuffle revolves around the beleaguered district’s troubled leadership and precarious financial situation. Tensions have mounted in the district as a bill in the state legislature failed to pass legislation to install some form of state oversight, LoHud.com reports.
A state fiscal monitor last November wrote in a report to the New York Education Department that “the district’s finances teeter on the edge of disaster” due to bad financial decisions and poor management by the East Ramapo Board of Education.
“In recent weeks, students, parents, alumni and other community members have stepped up its confrontations with district officials, including Superintendent Joel Klein,” according to the news site.
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Demonstrators were out in force at Memorial Park Saturday, with signs reading “Klein must resign” and urging Charles to do the same, before heading to the Ramapo Cultural Arts Center where Charles’ office is located.
Rev. Weldon McWilliams IV argues with Charles and his wife in the YouTube video, and the situation quickly turns sour.
“There’s a lot of tension in the community right now,” McWilliams said. “People don’t have faith in their elected officials.”
Now, both the protestors – known collectively as “Get Up, Stand Up: East Ramapo” – and Charles are pointing fingers and filing police reports.
Charles told LoHud Monday that he filed a report against the demonstrators for harassment.
“If they want to protest peacefully that is their right but they will not curse, berate or threaten my wife of myself,” he said in a statement. “I am very concerned that certain members of the clergy are advocating confrontation rather than peaceful discourse. Our kids should not be used as pawns in a political feud.”
Parents who witnessed the altercation also filed a police report against Charles and Logan for attempted assault and harassment, News 12 reports.
Police haven’t yet determined what, if any, criminal charges will be filed.
Meanwhile, officials with the state education department are coming to nearby Rockland Community College at 1:30 p.m. Thursday to make some sort of an important announcement regarding the troubled district. Officials did not provide any details on what the announcement might entail.
“There’s so much community concern,” Jeanne Beattie, state DOE spokeswoman, told The Journal News.
At about the same time, the East Ramapo Board of Education issued a request for proposals for “consultant services in connection with superintendent search,” undoubtedly foreshadowing the superintendent’s departure, New City Patch reports.