Open Letter to Carlucci, Zebrowski and Jaffee


Subject: ERCSD Budget/Title I Funds/Art & Music

May 09, 2014

Dear Senator Carlucci, Assemblyman Zebrowski and Assemblywoman Jaffee:

A mailer was sent out to ERCSD households regarding the 2014-15 proposed school budget.  The document states that programing will be retained at the same levels as this year. So, despite the additional $6.6 million in State aid and $3 million expected Spin Up aid, mandated Music and Art WILL NOT be restored, NOR will the drastic cuts to public school Special Ed program be restored.

Superintendent Klein contends that Art and Music is not mandated, rather that the students should be exposed to Art and Music in the classroom. In this video Klein makes this statement in response to a parent questioning the instruction her child is getting in Art and Music.

Teachers were given a few hours of in-service training on Art and Music by the District many months after the school year began. Here is how one teacher described this training:

“A visit for 25 minutes from the director of Art and Music, Erleana Thevinin. We went to the downtown gym during spring break and were shown three 5-6 minute videos of some teachers doing music and drama in the class.  Then we turned and talked to our neighbor about it.  There has been no “training”.  Training would involve us doing something, not just being told that we are supposed to incorporate art, music and drama.”

How very sad that our students are being marginalized like this. At the same time, the derelict BOE continues to spend millions on lawsuits and appeals on cases they have already lost. The Board is launching these suits against NYSED, not just defending against them as they like to infer.  In fact, we believe the BOE has now spent $3 million this year on legal fees, which is disgraceful considering that they are destroying academic programing. Many months ago, teachers started complaining that there are no Art supplies in the classrooms:

“It’s sadder than you can imagine.  Now our school doesn’t have white 8.5×11 photocopy paper, chart paper or markers.  How we are supposed to make any progress is beyond me.  It’s like building bridges out of matchsticks.”

Furthermore, we are being told that Title I funds are being used for purposes that I believe may be improper as reported by yet another teacher who says:

“What you should all be more concerned with is how the Title I funds for reading teachers are being used in the schools to cover (lunch) duties, take the kids outside for extra recess and watching movies, and not seeing kids for that extra reading they used to get.”

This in my opinion is totally unacceptable and perhaps an illegal misappropriation of Federal funds. ‘Title I’ is the federal program that provides funding to local school districts to improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged students. I don’t think that supervising lunch, recess and movies qualifies as activity that leads to ‘improvement of academic achievement’ even by the lax standards in ERCSD.’

The ERCSD community appreciates your continued support and demands an investigation into the possible misappropriation of Title funds and a push to get the oversight bill passed during this session. These examples serve as reinforcement that oversight is needed in ERCSD. We hope that you will play an active role in making that happen.

The last time the Inspector General audited the District, they left without filing a report. It is time for those findings to be released and another audit to be performed.  A review by NYSED of the District’s practices as it relates to Art and Music is also needed.

According to what we are reading and hearing from staff and Administration, the District intends to continue these practices next school year, unless someone steps in to help our kids.

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”

(Article posted by Michael N. Hull.   Picture:

About Peggy Hatton

Co-Host East Ramapo Underground, WRCR

About the Author
Co-Host East Ramapo Underground, WRCR