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Former Schools Chancellor Walcott To Monitor Troubled East Ramapo District

EAST RAMAPO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A former New York City Schools Chancellor has been appointed to monitor and report back to Albany on one of the most troubled school districts in the state.

As CBS2's Lou Young reported, there was another proposed fix for the troubled East Ramapo School District where minority students attend public schools controlled by board members who send their children to private schools.

The new State Education Commissioner has taken noticed.

"For whatever reason this board has taken actions that have not been perceived a sin the best interest of the students," Mary Ellen Elia said.

Enter Dennis Walcott, the former New York City Schools Chancellor, now official State Monitor for the East Ramapo School District.

"Anything is fixable," Walcott said.

Former Schools Chancellor Walcott To Monitor Troubled East Ramapo District

The district needs more than cheerleading. State reports have called it poorly managed and underfunded.

High schools lack Advanced Placement courses, and art and music programs are being cut.

Three-years-ago CBS2 reported the possibility that the district would cut back or eliminate kindergarten. One recent graduate said she's lucky she made it out.

"Money's slow, you got no paper, need new books. Funding's gone for programs here," she said.

Some had wanted a monitor with veto power. They didn't get one, but the board has vowed to cooperate and not resist.

"We welcome him and and we hope to work closely with him," East Ramapo School Board President, Yehuda Weissmandl said.

It's a strong incentive to end a long struggle over public education.

"The Commissioner is clear, and I think clear that they have to work together. If not, we're going to have to take to take over the district," Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland-Westchester) said.

The district has roughly 9,000 students in public schools and 24,000 attending private schools, many of them Yeshivas.

School board members have been elected with comfortable majorities by voters anxious to keep property taxes low.

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