Another Letter

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Letter

Updated 08/11/2008 - 9:22 am

An out-of-district former school board mem­ber, questioning the legality of the re-formed Alliance's proposed alternate venue for an "Eruv Education Meeting," has E-mailed members of the Westhampton Beach Board of Education, copied to Hampton Synagogue and The Press:

"Dear Board Member,
"I have been informed that a local organi­za­tion calling itself The Alliance for the Sep­aration of Church and State for the Greater Westhampton Area, Inc. has reserved the High School Auditorium on Wednesday, August 13th so that the local Synagogue can hold an 'information meeting' about an Eruv.
"I believe that this is a violation of the Regulations of the NYSED. I urge you to seek counsel immediately on this issue and advise me whether you are planning on letting this event take place on school property. As a side note, I question your judgment that you would even be willing to allow this meeting to be a precedent for all future requests from religious and/or political groups.
"I believe that the commissioner has fairly established the prohibition of the use of district resources to disseminate partisan information in the following case law: (Appeal of Hoey, et al., 45 Ed Dept Rep 501, Decision No. 15,394; Appeal of Lawson, 38 id. 713, Decision No. 14,124).
"Further I believe that the Board's proposed action is a violation of Education Law §414, relating to permissible uses of school dis­trict property, as well as Article 8, Section 1 of the New York State Constitution which prohibits the use of public money to aid private individuals or entities.
"If I do not hear from you promptly, I will file an Appeal with the Commissioner of Education immediately, asking him to grant my request for a stay of your actions until there is sufficient time to review my Appeal and the relief there sought.
"While I believe that there is merit for a public discussion, as a former board mem­ber, I do not believe that a School Build­ing is the place for that public forum to be held.
"Please advise,
Jon Zimmerman"

As Jimmy Durante used to say: "Ev'rybody wants ta get inna da act!"

Mr. Zimmerman's threat of action has likely been rendered moot by the simple fact that, despite the assertion by Mark Williams and the Alliance, no formal request for the use of the High School has been made, much less approved.

While little is known of Mr. Zimmerman or any association he might have with Hampton Synagogue or Rabbi Marc Schneier, records reveal that aside from having served on the Port Washington Board of Education, he is no stranger to bringing litigation.

What is certain, though, is that whether his reading of the applicable regulations is correct or not, Mr. Zimmerman has effectively gotten the Rabbi off the hook this Wednesday.

Do we see local Board of Education member Clint Greenbaum's stealthy hand in any of this?

Comments

1. David said...

Not being a lawyer, my response may be unqualified. While I think the request of Mr. Williams and his signatories was, to speak softly, rude and insulting, I don't see how it violates any of the cases or laws cited by Zimmerman.

Seems to me he chose to throw a bunch of cases at the table to confuse people.

In Education Law 414:f it states: "Upon the petition of at least twenty-five citizens... the trustees ... shall organize ... civic forums... to promote and advance principles of Americanism."

Since the new group CLAIMS to only wish a non-partisan location for a balanced education on a matter of Americanism (separation of Church and State), the decisions he cites regarding favoring one party are irrelevant. His only outlet is if the Alliance actually registered itself as an organization this time around. If they did then one could read Article 8 Section 1 of the constitution as saying that as a private entity the town would not be permitted to even loan them the school grounds.

From my non-lawyer reading, the Constitution and the Education Law are contradictory on this point. Can you fill in what I'm not seeing?

I suspect that you might be right about Mr. Williams... I don't know whether he has a Summer home near here, or is "in the Rabbi's pocket," or is just someone with a certain specific body of knowledge who felt like insinuating himself into the process, but he's probably given the Rabbi a hook upon which to hang his "I'm not attending any meeting at the High School" hat.
Dean

2. Jon Zim said...

The Alliance is registered a NYS NFB.

I dont like to my school tax dollars used for purposed which are prohibitive.

FYI: I have never met the Rabbi, nor anyone on the board.

  1. What is an "NFB?"
  2. How has it been established that the use of an existing structure would in anyway "use your tax dollars?"

    You mean, I believe, "prohibited." But again, that has yet to be established.
  3. So, you just thought that you would butt in as a public service? Okay, 's all right with you, 's all right with me.
Dean

3. Jon Zim said...

NFP; sorry.
Interestingly, the WHB Group never did reserve the Auditorium (according the to the Supt. of Schools) -- so was their letter just a way to "sit-up-the-pot" and make the Rabbi look bad?

I think they merely wished to have the "dialogue" on what they perceived as a more level playing field.

At the same time, they appear to be very disorganized.

The Rabbi makes himself look "bad" enough without any help from the Alliance.
Dean

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