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Rockland Exec Elect Asks State to Step in on East Ramapo Schools' Lawyers

Photo of Ed Day by Joe Gartner
Photo of Ed Day by Joe Gartner
During his campaign for Rockland County Executive, Legislator Ed Day (R-New City) said he would address the issues in the troubled East Ramapo School District if he won.

Day will not be sworn in until Jan. 1, but the County Executive elect is not waiting until he takes office to speak on the subject.

Day posted to Facebook a copy of a letter he sent to New York State Education Commissioner Dr. John King and copied to East Ramapo School Board President Yehuda Weissmandl, specifically addressing the district's legal representation by the firm of Minerva & D'Agostino. 

After a series of incidents including this outburst by one of the firm's attorneys, Chris Kirby, Weissmandl announced that the district would find other representation, but that had not happened yet. (Editor's note: The video attached to the report regarding Kirby includes strong and offensive language.)

The text of Day's letter is as follows:

Dear Commissioner King:

As a representative of many East Ramapo School District families at the County level of government , and the incoming County Executive of Rockland County, I am writing you regarding a number of much publicized incidents involving the  counsel retained by the East Ramapo School District, Minerva & D'Agostino, P.C., 107 South Central Avenue, Valley Stream, NY, and the utter failure of the current school board to address these matters.

Briefly, on March 5, 2013, the principal in the firm, Albert D'Agostino, was witnessed abusing his  position as he stood over an honor student and cursed at him. On July 2nd, 2013 a contracted Minerva & D'Agostino attorney, Mr. Chris Kirby, repeatedly engaged in a disgusting tirade during a regular Board of Education meeting and in the presence of the entire school board.  His actions included belittling a woman who was actually being complimentary to school staff and also engaging in what I view as religious bias by using the Lord Jesus Christ's name in vain. His later actions in the parking lot, where video indicated he laid in wait for citizens attending the meeting to leave, included engaging in physically threatening and unbelievably crude behavior that included cursing a woman, using a words belittling her weight, appearance, and even describing female genitalia. In short, he was totally out of control.

Subsequently, and after much public pressure, the East Ramapo School Board president Mr. Yehuda Weissmandl announced on July 8 that the district would "transition to other legal representation". Six months later this firm is still in place no disciplinary action has been taken by the school district in either case. Given that the original "transition" from an existing law firm to Minerva & D'Agostino took all of one school board meeting, I find it insulting to our community that six months later, tax dollars are still being paid to this law firm.

There is no place in this community for actions such as the ones described and well documented, and the failure of the East Ramapo School Board to follow up on it's assurances to the community are wholly unacceptable. I urge you to take whatever steps you deem appropriate to ensure that the law firm of Minerva & D'Agostino is, in fact, discharged from their duties forthwith.

I thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Edwin J. Day

Rockland County Executive-Elect

Rockland County Legislator, District 5

Dennis December 16, 2013 at 09:10 AM
What a refreshing change! County Exec elect, Ed Day is on target and making good on his campaign promise. The children of the East Ramapo School District deserve the best education, however unfortunately the school board has failed them miserably. Dennis W. Hardy-Former Mayor-Village of Piermont
GBS December 16, 2013 at 10:17 AM
Dennis, ditto. I attended E. Ramapo schools when they were in the upper echelon of all in Rockland. Sad state of affairs now ...

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