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Civil Rights Complaint Discussed by School Board, Community

Mamaroneck School Board and Superintendent Dr. Shaps (center) Tuesday night

With the Mamaroneck School Board beginning to look at its placement policies, and whether factors like race and ethnicity would be criteria, it’s clear a vast divide in perspective in the community has not narrowed.

School Board President Nancy Pierson moderated a heated public discussion before Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting on the recent findings of the U.S. Justice Dept. Office of Civil Rights in the Kindergarten placement of students at Central School. It was the first such public forum since Rina Jimenez filed a complaint against the District in 2011 after she noticed a disproportionately high number of minority children in her son’s kindergarten class.

In August, the OCR ruled the District and Central School  “inconsistently and subjectively”  applied its placement policies and that a disproportionate number of Hispanic, Black and other non-white students actually were assigned to the same classroom in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Pierson said Tuesday she commended the way staff at Central has handled the recent wave of public outrage. theLoop and other local websites have received hundreds of comments from readers.

Jonathan Sacks

Others disagreed. During the public discussion, Darrell Davis of the Westchester Grassroots Coalition said the comments he heard from the administration are “going to get this District in a world of trouble. You’re making all the classic mistakes,” he told the School Board. “You can’t tell this family how to feel.”

Luis Quiros, a Mamaroneck community activist said, “The school district is contaminated with systems and subsystems that protect segregation…The District hires under the same formulas, organized to confuse Latino families.”

Bijan Anvar

Eleanor Sherman, a parent that brought a lawsuit she said won in Second Circuit Court against the District several years ago on behalf of her special needs son, said “this District has long experience in denying access….Separation is not equal access to education…I am appalled by the actions of the School Board and the District.”

Pierson asks Curt to stop talking

 

At one point,  a parent identified only as “Curt,” came to the podium with the Central Elementary yearbook. Someone in the audience yelled,  “Is he doing that again?” Pictures of the school yearbook aired on local TV and in newspapers last month after Jimenez used them in an effort to sow the disproportionate class.

Curt then directed his comments to Superintendent Shaps as Assistant Superintendent Dr. Anthony Minotti yelled “Sit down.”  Pierson came to the podium and asked him to leave, and he and Ms. Jimenez stormed out of the meeting.

A few parents spoke in support of the District. “I have only had positive experiences in Central School,” said Bijan Anvar, the father of two students there. “A lot of parents in the school feel the same as I do.”

Eleanor Sherman

Jonathan Sacks, who has children at Hommocks and Mamaroneck Avenue School, said this episode should be used as an opportunity. “This is a great opportunity… to experience other cultures and ideas. Unfortunately this may eliminate our ability to deal with race at all.”

Mamaroneck School Board’s Policy Committee is now considering whether to change its placement policies.

The District must report Kindergarten placement data to the OCR in September of 2012 and 2013 as part of ts agreement with the OCR.

 

 

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Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Its not what you feel is right regarding class placement. Its NOT open for interpretation. There are guidelines,laws, and statutes…Brown vs. Board of Education… that need to be followed and upheld. The administration failed to follow all except for gender which led to segregation. It doesn’t matter how you get to segregation. Segregation is segregation. They knew what they were doing. It was their job to know. They are the experts! How can we expect our children to follow rules and laws if the administration can’t. Funny how they try to create an aura of that the courts are still deciding on whats right. Wrong! Follow the law! Talk about diversity….then practice what you preach!

Anne Onimus
Anne Onimus
7 years ago

Mr. Ross, don’t think for a minute that I am against busting drug dealers. In fact, I feel that drug dealers are the lowest form of slime and the cause of many of the problems in our country. What I am against is somebody ruining the government’s case against a drug dealer (the student) under some “silent understanding” with the police department, the same police department who should have been doing the investigative work (search and seizure of the drugs found on the student). Shaps should not have had any involvement in the situation, other than perhaps notifying the police of alleged criminal activity in the school and telling THEM to do what police are trained and paid to do.

Mike Ross
Mike Ross
7 years ago

As for ‘Anne’ (or ‘Curt’ or whoever they are) mentioning stories from years ago in another district, I think they have completely the wrong end of the stick; the vast majority of parents here would, I believe, *welcome* a supervisor keen to work with the police to bust drug dealers in our schools! If that was an attempt to sling mud it was *completely* misguided..

Mike Ross
Mike Ross
7 years ago

‘FedUp’ speaks well, but would speak even better if they had the courage of their convictions and used their real name in a public forum.

As for forms and ‘race’, my preferred option has always been to treat it as a write-in; I write ‘human’, draw a little box, and check it :-)

Katie
Katie
7 years ago

As Chief Justice Roberts pronounced re: the UT Austin case that just made its way to the Supreme Court…“the way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” It should not be a factor, period.

And as for last names…what the heck do those matter? My sister’s last name is Gonzales and she is 100% European. She married a 3rd or 4th generation Mexican-American who can’t speak Spanish, has never been out of the US and doesn’t even like Mexican food.

I suggest EVERY parent in the district, from here on out, refuse to disclose the race of your kids on each and every form. Make it impossible to classify our kids.

RU Kidding
RU Kidding
7 years ago

I am surprised that Mr. Davis would even suggest that one could just look at a students face to determine ones ethnicity. Profiling a young student must be an acceptable practice in his mind, but I for one don’t feel its a practice that has any place in public schools, or anywhere in the United States for that matter. There can never be equality when rabble rousers try to preach their own hangups to anyone who will let them be heard.And even though everyone has a right to be heard doesn’t mean that every open form is one to advance ones own prejudice. This is America where the only barrier to success is not determined by ones color or ethnicity, but rather the quality of ones education and perseverance to succeed.

FedUp
FedUp
7 years ago

The administration notified all the parents – in writing as well as through phone calls – that they were happy to meet with them to discuss any personal concerns they had with the class make-up and how/if they felt it directly effected their child. Two additional families chose to do that. Two. So to say we weren’t asked for our opinions or didn’t have an opportunity to have a voice is once again, an example of an “Anonymous” poster not knowing the facts and choosing to mislead others with incorrect information.

And for Ms. Jimenez to storm out of a room and call another parent “trash” because said parent had the nerve to say she didn’t agree with her, speaks volumes of the type of character we’re dealing with – oh, and the other parent just happened to be a fellow Latina.

And the advocate from Mt. Vernon? Was he kidding? He’s as bad as the two parents who started all this telling school officials that even if they don’t have much info on students entering kindergarten they can look at the kid’s face and guess what they are. Or they can read a last name “If it’s Rodriguez or O’Brien I can make a pretty educated guess as to what they are”…..I wonder how Ms. Tannenbaum (the parent who spoke first and happens to be Asian) felt about that statement regarding her children’s last names? Or the latino family who chooses not to answer the question about race on the registration papers (which they don’t have to answer) – do they want school officials looking at their child and thinking – well, they don’t look black and they aren’t really white – kind of tan – what should we consider them? Can they be included as a non-white student in the class make-up? Please – and that advocate says that the district is making all the typical wrong moves regarding race/ethnicity? And this is how he suggests that it’s dealt with – look at skin color and last names and make assumptions? Outrageous and insulting to people of ALL races/ethnicities.

And as for “Dr. Curt….” He decided to use the opportunity last night to attempt to make this a personal attack on the superintendent about things that happened (or for all we know, didn’t) in another school district years ago. Sorry – that’s not what I gave up my Tuesday evening to come hear about. And the only reason he stopped talking was because he was pushed by another attendee to give his full name and state who he was. He wouldn’t. You have something to say in a public forum and you’re asked to state your full name – if you believe in what you’re stating, why refuse to do it?

Enough already.

Anne Onimus
Anne Onimus
7 years ago

Dr. Shaps is not new to controversy, as evidenced by:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/218/newhampshireschools.shtml

ladyofspain
ladyofspain
7 years ago

If I were the Board and Superintendent, I would take these words to heart and reconsider your opinions expressed last night. “Darrell Davis of the Westchester Grassroots Coalition said the comments he heard from the administration are “going to get this District in a world of trouble. You’re making all the classic mistakes,” he told the School Board. “You can’t tell this family how to feel.”

jjinla
jjinla
7 years ago

I’ve read comments by all of them throughout the months and Jonathan Sachs is the only one to be taken seriously. All of the others…especially Quiros are on a witch hunt.

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