November 20th, 2013
Alleged Anti-Semitism in Pine Bush School Addressed
Goshen – In response to a recent article in the New York Times about a lawsuit against the Pine Bush Central School District alleging issues of anti-Semitism within the district, Deputy County Executive Steven M. Gross convened a meeting of the Orange County Human Rights Commission and other interested stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the situation and develop a plan to address the issues.
In addition to representatives from the County Executive’s Office and the Human Rights Commission, the assembled group included members of the Orange County Legislature, Chairman Michael Pillmeier, Minority Leader Jeffrey Berkman, Independence Party Leader Michael Amo, and Legislator Daniel Castricone, District Attorney Frank Phillips, UnderSheriff Kenneth T. Jones, Governor Cuomo’s Hudson Valley representative Aimee Vargas, Orange/Ulster BOCES Superintendent William Hecht, Mary Jalloh, Executive Director of the NY Center for School Safety, Pine Bush Superintendent Joan Carbone, attorneys from the Pine Bush School District James Drohan and Daniel Petigrow, as well as representatives from the New York State Police and Orange County’s human service agencies. Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana joined the meeting via telephone.
“It’s critical that we come together as a community to share our concerns with respect to the New York Times article … we need to move forward in a positive and productive manner for the sake of the youth of our county,” said County Executive Diana.
Deputy County Executive Gross, who led the meeting, added, “It is important that we all work together as a community to gather the facts, address the issues in a united fashion, and work swiftly to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”
On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office instructed the New York State Police to launch an investigation into the allegations. DA Phillips said that a confidential investigation is now under way and no information will be released until the investigation is complete. He confirmed that at this point there have been no criminal charges lodged regarding these allegations.
Fred Cook, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, echoed the Human Rights Commission’s mission in his remarks, “The Human Rights Commission is committed to fostering mutual esteem, justice, and equity among our County’s diverse population and seeks to provide opportunities and understanding for all people who live and work in our community.”
Pine Bush Central School District Superintendent Joan Carbone, said “The New York Times article was very upsetting to us as a school district and a community. This is not who we are – discriminatory and bullying behavior of any kind cannot be tolerated in our schools. As we become a global society, even here in Orange County, it is imperative that we address and embrace diversity and promote tolerance. We have many programs already in place and will continue to grow and expand these opportunities so that we may further serve our students.”
Chairman Michael Pillmeier added, “The Orange County Legislature stands together with the community-at-large as we collect the necessary information to gain a full understanding of the situation. All people of Orange County deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”
The Orange County Human Rights Commission can provide access to cultural diversity training information to those who are interested in learning more or bringing programs to their school or place of business. Visit www.orangecountygov.com for more information.