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Proyecto Faro Parent Leaders went to Albany on May 7!
Organización de padres empoderados (Empowered Parents Organization) or OPE, who PF has worked with and trained over the years, joined NYCLU on May 7 for an Albany Lobby Day focusing on educational justice for the public-school children of the East Ramapo Central School District (ERCSD). Together they pressed New York State elected officials to find an equitable and just solution to the ERCSD financial crisis and pass legislation to ensure public-school community representation with decision-making power on the school board.


OPE has been spending countless hours fighting for educational justice for their children who attend public schools in the East Ramapo Central School District (ERCSD). Parents, students and graduates are fed up after a decade of the majority-white school board whose own children attend private schools running the public schools into the ground. ERCSD public school children—96% of whom are children of color—go to school in buildings crumbling around them and contaminated with asbestos, mold and lead pipes too dangerous to use for drinking water and preparing school meals. ERCSD is so under-resourced that it lacks funds to employ enough faculty to teach core classes, preventing students from graduating on time. There are few ESL classes and bilingual teachers to serve the English language learners (ELLs), who represent the highest concentration of ELLs in any district in NY State. The school board has recently threatened to eliminate extracurricular activities and AP classes.

After years of testifying at school board meetings, voicing their concern to elected officials, and working with a coalition that includes the NYCLU and the Spring Valley NAACP, parents feel they are no longer invisible. On February 24, 2024, OPE parent leaders mobilized 500 parents and students to meet with the Chancellor of the NY State Board of Regents Lester W. Young, Jr. and Frances G. Wills, the Regent for the 9th Judicial District which includes Rockland County, to describe the untenable and hazardous school conditions children face daily, as well as their vision of a better future for the ERCSD. Chancellor Young responded to the distressing testimony with consternation, telling those in attendance, “No child in New York State should have to go through what the children are going through in this district.” 

Following the meeting with Chancellor Young, parents, graduates, and activists testified at the March 5 East Ramapo school board meeting. To watch some of this passionate and moving testimony, see East Ramapo busing stays amid swelling deficit as trustee shifts focus to homeless kids.

At a recent OPE and NYCLU Lobby Day planning meeting, one OPE parent leader declared, “The government sees we will no longer accept crumbs.”