Tuesday, September 01, 2015

East Ramapo monitor Dennis Walcott: 'Our goal is for action' 

In the 17 days since he was appointed East Ramapo school district monitor, Dennis Walcott has had eight conversations with the school board president, visited parents at coin-operated laundries and grocery stores, sat in on staff development sessions and even climbed onto the roof of Ramapo High School to inspect a leak.

He doesn't have all the answers yet, he said during a meeting Tuesday with the editorial board of The Journal News, but he is gathering the information he needs to complete a report on the district by December.

"Our goal is not just to issue a report," he said. "Our goal is for action to take place long term and short term. We will not accept anything else."

Walcott, a former New York City schools chancellor, is leading a team named by state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia last month to monitor district operations to ensure students get a good education and taxpayer money is spent appropriately. Both are big issues in a district plagued by mistrust between a Board of Education dominated by Orthodox and Hasidic men who send their children to private yeshivas and parents of public school students who are mostly black and Latino.

Walcott was accompanied to The Journal News by a second member of the monitor team: Monica George-Fields, an expert in turning around failing schools and a former New York City school principal. The team has a third member, John W. Sipple, an expert in school finances.


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