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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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9 years ago

Let me carefully spell out the facts to our resident lawyers. Who violated the students constitutional rights…correct Dr.Shaps! Why?….correct he was deemed to have illegally searched and arrested a child. It went to the top court…the Supreme court of New Hampshire and they upheld unanimously the lower courts decision. Again it’s not open to debate the court ruled in favor of the child. A smart intelligent individual would have allowed police work to be done by the police.

9 years ago

Mike – Thank you for pointing that out for me, and I respectfully stand corrected on those points. I can’t state “you must argue with the facts” if I had incorrect facts as well. I did, in fact, misread that in the report.
As for the proms, there are not “pat-downs” per say, but they do search limos, et cetera. Some districts have even resorted to banning limos and requiring students take buses (coach of course) for a prom that leave from school..
Pleasure conversing with someone who debates with facts.
If we could all do that, perhaps we could have discussions and actually solve problems! That’s exactly the problem with this situations. It appears that once one’s mind is set, they shut-off to facts/other points of view that contradict what THEIR truth is.
No one can argue that you don’t keep an open mind and research your facts then give an opinion. Perhaps you can resolve this entire situation peacefully!! LOL! Run for an office, few candidates present the facts through a clear lens anymore! KUDOS!

Mike Ross
Mike Ross
9 years ago

Anonymous, couple of points.

The dismissal in the NH case *was* based on Miranda, not privacy rights. If you read closely they decided that, although the teacher was still a teacher, because they had a formal ‘agreement’ with the local PD in cases of suspected drug dealing in the school, that simple fact was enough to make the teacher, in a legal sense, an *agent* of the police – and a police officer, or a police *agent*, DOES have to give the Miranda warning before dealing with a suspect. So your facts aren’t quite straight there – it all hinged on the teacher being deemed an ‘agent’ – something that legally came out of left field but is probably correct.

Now, “In districts throughout NY, they search EVERY person going to prom for drugs & alcohol…” – I would venture to suggest a blanket 100% search of that nature, especially if it’s an intrusive personal search – pat down, frisk etc. – with no reasonable suspicion whatever is most definitely illegal and unconstitutional. You don’t lose your 4th amendment rights at the school door – or the prom door! If anyone tried to search one of my kids *with no reasonable cause* there would be hell to pay; I have lawyers and my kids are getting good at karate!

9 years ago

Amen Mike… I can value whatever you write because you back it with facts!

9 years ago

Sharon – you’re doing exactly what the other person stated… You only read the first part. Please read it again… THEY WERE NOT GIVEN THE SAME TEACHER FOR TWO YEARS & IT WASN’T DONE TO THE SAME PEOPLE. The mom’s son was in kindergarten when she started this last year. The teacher in question taught kindergarten for the two years in question… It’s impossible under those circumstances, by what you’re stating, for an entire class to have the same teacher for two years in a row… Did they retain the entire class?? She hasn’t taught first grade.

Also, obviously you condone a child was caught with a cigarette laced with LSD.

In schools now, because of Columbine, they only need to ask permission. Would you feel the same if he found guns that a child was planning to use on your child… I bet then you’d praise him. What if the kid actually used the LSD or gave it to another child who “tripped-out”, hallucinated and killed someone or themselves.

In districts throughout NY, they search EVERY person going to prom for drugs & alcohol… RESEARCH IT. I’ve been witness to parents who provide drugs & alcohol to their kids & when they end-up with toxic poisoning, they cry & sue the school for not knowing they had it. Stop blaming the schools and start being parents.

FACT: Miranda rights apply to law enforcement only. It was base on a woman named Miranda who was arrested and didn’t understand what the police were arresting her for. With the passing of the Miranda rights POLICE are obligated to explain to people their legal rights. SCHOOLS are only obligated to ask permission. That’s why they DIDN’T use the Miranda law as a defense, they used violating their privacy laws.

By your comments, I completely agree with the other writer… Know your facts, then write an opinion. You’re destroying so many people’s reputations by blogging without facts. So sad we always blame schools instead of what the real problem is. Poor teachers! You try doing their job!

Mike Ross
Mike Ross
9 years ago

As for segregation, a statistically imperfectly even ethnic balance does NOT equal segregation, no matter how much you try to inflame the argument by repeatedly using such an emotive term. Segregation implies 100% segregation, as practiced in Jim Crow days, and deliberate intent to do so (which everyone agrees was absent – read the latest ‘Anonymous’ post).

Mike Ross
Mike Ross
9 years ago

Sharon, did you *read* the report??

Dr. Shaps isn’t a cop, he didn’t arrest anyone. He thought he saw a student with contraband. He asked that student for permission to search their bag; they gave permission. He found what he thought was drugs – not surprising, he thought (correctly) he had seen a drug deal going down. He called the cops and THEY arrested the student. Teachers aren’t cops and don’t ‘arrest’ students. Get your facts right.

The problem was, the court decided that because Dr. Shaps was party to some kind of ‘agreement’ with the local PD regarding combating drugs in schools, he could be deemed to be acting as a ‘government agent’ rather than a teacher. This meant that he should have read the student their Miranda rights before asking for permission to search their bag. As a result the evidence – the drugs that were found – was disallowed, and the drug dealer escaped justice.

And you paint this as a GOOD thing? That bit about Miranda was a real gotcha – obviously no-one ever considered that a teacher searching a student with their consent should have to read them their Miranda rights. Fair play to the court, I’m all in favour of strong 4th amendment rights, but it’s not something many people would have expected or predicted.

Yes, I want teachers catching anyone dealing drugs in our schools, and I want them to have a criminal record for that. And so does pretty much everyone else – except perhaps for a few whiny ‘but he’s a good kid really!’ parents.

9 years ago

I generally don’t like to post on blogs but just felt compelled to voice my opinions. It’s just wild reading some of these rants that just ramble on and on. First off Dr. Shaps violated that high school student’s civil rights by taking the law into his own hands. An arrest without Miranda rights. Dr. Shaps spoke at the PTA meeting about turning the events at Central into a positive discussion rather then escalating the matter and reporting it to the Feds /OCR. Well Dr. Shaps why did you have to ruin that child’s life, arrest him and give him a permanent arrest record. If we followed your advice in the same vein as you advocate how the segregation issue at Central should have been treated….you should have called the kids parents, and worked on some counseling for the child. That would have been the constructive mode of action. I sympathize with the parents of the segregated class. You segregated that kindergarten for the last 2 years and on top of that you gave them the same teacher for the last 2 years…..and you have the nerve to ask why the OCR action was brought. You got your hands burnt….just as you tried to burn the hands of that high school student with drug charges rather then try to provide drug counseling. I’m glad they nailed you! Guilty for picking on 5year old defenseless children and for showing indifference. Shame on you!!

9 years ago

She isn’t going to get one dime. She has absolutely no damages, and if they settle it would set a huge precedent.

Look at Astorino fighting the fed. Sometimes principle is more important than $$.

And besides, there are enough lawyers in this town that would help out the district if need be. If you are a litigator and want some pro bono hours, by all means offer your services, although we already have attorneys on retainer for routine stuff.

I don’t disagree with anything else you have said, but to think this woman is going to walk away with a big payday is silly. Especially since, by all signs, affirmative action will likely be struck down in the supreme court before this even gets to trial.

9 years ago

In reading about Dr. Shaps that was posted, I would want the principals to be able to search if there is suspicious activity & I would certainly want to know if it was my child. It was high school, not an elementary school & they did ask if they could search. Years ago, you didn’t have that option. If a teacher thought something was suspicious, the teacher took it and your parents were called & YOU GOT IN TROUBLE, NOT REWARDED!!! Why would a parent sue if their child admitted to & was found with LSD? What message does that send? Why would you not want to help your child NOT get involved with drugs. It actually means Dr. Shaps is alert, cares about the welfare of all kids & isn’t afraid to not turn a blind-eye to wrong-doings, but to shine a light on it. It actually reinforces the point that nothing wrong was done. If he was willing to do that to help a kid steer away from drugs, why would he allow racism?
Also, for everyone commenting on what you THINK are the facts, PLEASE do your research. She DOES NOT have a following from Central… Not in the minority or majority population. She needs outsiders to back her. She has tried to sway people to see her side, but we KNOW how much Central’s faculty does for EVERY child… INCLUDING hers.
People are stating it was for two years, it involved 7 people, etc. IT’S ALL LIES, EXAGGERATIONS & MISCONCEPTIONS!!!
It was 2 parents. The one who originally wanted Chatsworth was able to go because they had another address in the Chatsworth area. The problem wasn’t even that the class had too many minorities, it was that they were a minority family and had, what they thought, was the only minority teacher in K… FALSE, there were other “minority” teachers.. Why is this family not backing Jiminez? BECAUSE SHE IS WRONG!!! She didn’t realize this parent had a legal address they could use to attend Chatsworth. She started a temper-tantrum & played the race hand as her trump card. They offered her every accommodation, except going to Chatsworth because she had no “legal” right to attend there as the other mother did. In her mind, this was a personal attack against her, and she went into vicious fight mode.
Now, she is suing THE ENTIRE district for a stated $15,000,000.00. & asking the district to PAY for her child to go to Scarsdale schools on YOUR dime!!
If you know anything about school districts, as a general rule of thumb, they settle versus going to court. Hiring lawyers, court fees, etc. usually end-up costing more than it would to settle, even if they won. Furthermore, the publicity & media it would draw could compromise the safety & well-being of the children & cause even more problems for everyone. Of course, people are going to say ” Why did the district settle? They must’ve been guilty!”
When your school taxes go up to cover the money she is asking for, then thank the district for not taking it to court where it would cost you considerably more in taxes.
Feel free to feel the way you want, it’s what makes America great, but KNOW the FACTS. Don’t let posts, not based on first-hand experience, make you hate a school that is beloved by SO MANY because of the LOVE of EVERY child at CENTRAL! Every debate needs to be based on opinions of the facts, not propaganda.
She has stopped at nothing to try & get people to side with her… being a reverse racist by showing kids photos & names, trashing where people live by calling it the projects (not every building over two stories is a “project”, ask people living in Tribeca or Park Ave.), trying to ruin the reputation of AMAZING teachers and faculty members (for those of you that commented on the psychologist, teachers, etc. allowing this to happen, you should know the psychologist is Spanish, & 2 of the 4 teachers were minorities. With the majority of the placement team being a said “minority”, do you think they would allow segregation?
It’s sad, race has never been an issue at Central by anyone… Not parents, teachers, kids, etc., now hopefully she won’t change that because she’s using race for exploitation & personal gain.
Finally, for all of you that read the OCR report that this woman used as another weapon for personal gain, I hope you also read the part in the report that it is NOT meant to be conclusive or for public use, due to the sensitivity of confidential student information it contained. Obviously, that meant nothing to her that she “outed” other kids. She posted proudly in online news media outlets & The Journal News. For people who attend Central, they all know who the kids referenced in the report were & that’s why at the end it states it is private & for the parties involved only. Most of you probably stopped reading when you read “racially imbalanced” & didn’t even read on to see it said it was found to be unintentional.
Her next weapon is to attack Shaps.
Debates are healthy & needed, but PLEASE, for the sake of wonderful teachers & a loving school family, get the FACTS, not what people post! Feel free to even research what I’ve posted. If, in fact, this was going on for years as Jiminez states, don’t you think if one person spoke out, others would get the courage to stand behind her… At least one other parent from these two years?
For the parents, PTA members at the meeting… THEY VOLUNTEERED to speak, NO ONE asked them to go. They’re so outraged because they are also “minorities” & know how much Central does for EVERY child.
Everyone will have an opinion, but PLEASE base it in fact. Bashing people because of false or misleading information can really destroy someone’s life because of another’s greed. The facts prove its all for greed. $15,000,000.00 because you don’t like your class?? I hope if she is so passionate about this, she will donate the majority of that money to a civil rights organization.

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