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Rockland County, NY - Jewish E. Ramapo Board Member: I Should Have Done More

Published on: July 4, 2013 01:47 PM
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Image grab from YouTube School board vice president Yonah Rothman can be seen attempting to defuse the confrontation in the district's South Madison Avenue parking lotImage grab from YouTube School board vice president Yonah Rothman can be seen attempting to defuse the confrontation in the district’s South Madison Avenue parking lot

Rockland County, NY - As tensions continue to escalate in the embattled East Ramapo School District after a school board meeting turned into an explosive confrontation between the district’s lawyer and a parent, one of the members of the school board expressed regret for not publicly rebuking the lawyer at the first sign of trouble.

School board vice president Yonah Rothman can be seen attempting to defuse the confrontation in the district’s South Madison Avenue parking lot in a video that has been circulating on the internet and captured the disturbing incident which took place after a heated school board meeting, as previously reported on VIN News.  This afternoon, In a telephone interview with VIN News, Rothman admitted he should have escorted lawyer Chris Kirby out of the meeting immediately after his verbal attack on parent and education activist Peggy Hatton.

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“I should have jumped up and walked him out as soon as it happened,” Rothman told VIN News.  “I was caught so off guard I sat there asking myself ‘did I just hear that?’  I could not believe a professional lawyer would speak that way and at this point I will agree with anyone who says I should have stood up and said something immediately.”

According to Rothman, soft spoken school board president Yehuda Weissmandl did try to reprimand Kirby and twelve seconds after the diatribe begins on the video, a voice can be heard in the background saying “Chris, Chris.”  After allowing a parent in the audience to chastise Kirby and letting Hatton complete her remarks which included a scathing twenty two second rebuke of the board members, Weissmandl moved to quickly adjourn the meeting, one minute and four seconds after Kirby’s verbal tirade began.

Rothman called Kirby’s behavior deplorable and said it was seemed out of character for Kirby, adding that Kirby did seem uptight during the meeting.

“I am still floored,” said Rothman.  “I have never seen Chris behave in this way and I can’t think of anything that would have warranted that kind of behavior.  I couldn’t believe that that was Chris speaking.”

According to Rothman, Weissmandl escorted Kirby out of the meeting and walked him to his car, telling him that his behavior was unacceptable and directing him to go home, before he himself went home.

“No one dreamed he would come out of his car and seeing that happen, I was afraid they were going to come to blows,” recalled Rothman.  “I tried to be the calming influence and told him he had just made a serious mistake.”

Rothman can be seen on the video asking Kirby to go home multiple times, telling him “you are going to regret this in the morning.”

Rothman confirmed that the board is looking very seriously into the incident and has convened a meeting for 7 PM Monday night to discuss the unfortunate turn of events.  Rothman agreed that while he believes the high priority meeting should have been scheduled sooner, it was impossible to do so given the logistics of the long holiday weekend.

“Regulations dictate that we need a quorom, five out of nine members, to hold a meeting,” explained Rothman.  “People had scheduled vacations and this is not something anyone could have foreseen.”

Kirby’s position as counsel for the school district has long been a subject of discussion.  Kirby is employed at the Long Island based Minerva & D’Agostino P.C., which according to reports on LoHud.com, bills $250 per hour, double the amount paid to the district’s previous lawyer, and charges $125 an hour for transportation costs.

Rothman said the decision to hire Kirby was made long before he was elected to the school board and that he himself had questioned Kirby’s hiring.  According to Rothman, he was told that Kirby was hired for his expertise in dealing with the logistical issues of a school district which has a large percentage of private school parents.

Despite Tuesday night’s ugly confrontation, Rothman expressed optimism that there can be sunnier days ahead for the troubled school district.

“We have to find a way to co-exist,” said Rothman.  “I believe there is a middle ground here.  We just have to find it.”


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1

 Jul 04, 2013 at 02:23 PM Anonymous Says:

I have seen both videos and besides for the reaction of Mr. Rothman the videos are a massive chillul hashem. If you watch the video of the woman speaking she is talking about her son a special needs child failing by one point and then the lawyer smirks at the woman and the camera shows all the frum yidden just watching and doing nothing as this woman is demeaned. And it doesn't matter if this woman is a famous trouble maker everyone knows that there are cameras everywhere and now the world sees how frum yidden don't care about women or special needs kids etc. Obviously this lawyer needs to be fired asap and I hope that someone like Rabbi Horowitz will offer a public apology on behalf of the frum leaders of the monsey school district.

2

 Jul 04, 2013 at 02:35 PM Anonymous Says:

We are taught that one's true character is exposed when in anger. I have no clue about politics, not Ramapo, not school stuff, nor do I understand anything about anyone's differences here. But an attorney who stoops to this kind of behavior is a disgrace, and should not be representing a public entity. I do not need to know more about him, and have not a care what accolades are listed in his resume. I am convinced he is completely unqualified for this position, and I would recommend that he be replaced immediately.

3

 Jul 04, 2013 at 03:09 PM AlterHacker Says:

Reply to #1  
Says:

I have seen both videos and besides for the reaction of Mr. Rothman the videos are a massive chillul hashem. If you watch the video of the woman speaking she is talking about her son a special needs child failing by one point and then the lawyer smirks at the woman and the camera shows all the frum yidden just watching and doing nothing as this woman is demeaned. And it doesn't matter if this woman is a famous trouble maker everyone knows that there are cameras everywhere and now the world sees how frum yidden don't care about women or special needs kids etc. Obviously this lawyer needs to be fired asap and I hope that someone like Rabbi Horowitz will offer a public apology on behalf of the frum leaders of the monsey school district.

Absolutly correct. This could as well have happeed to the parents of a jewish child.

4

 Jul 04, 2013 at 03:18 PM joeynathan Says:

Reply to #1  
Says:

I have seen both videos and besides for the reaction of Mr. Rothman the videos are a massive chillul hashem. If you watch the video of the woman speaking she is talking about her son a special needs child failing by one point and then the lawyer smirks at the woman and the camera shows all the frum yidden just watching and doing nothing as this woman is demeaned. And it doesn't matter if this woman is a famous trouble maker everyone knows that there are cameras everywhere and now the world sees how frum yidden don't care about women or special needs kids etc. Obviously this lawyer needs to be fired asap and I hope that someone like Rabbi Horowitz will offer a public apology on behalf of the frum leaders of the monsey school district.

anonymous
as someone who refuses to use there name , what do you know about hilchos chillul hashem. as my late mother used to say there are three sides to every story , A&B∧ THE TRUTH. so unless you were there for the whole meeting please don't pasken halocha.

5

 Jul 04, 2013 at 03:44 PM Realistic Says:

Reply to #1  
Says:

I have seen both videos and besides for the reaction of Mr. Rothman the videos are a massive chillul hashem. If you watch the video of the woman speaking she is talking about her son a special needs child failing by one point and then the lawyer smirks at the woman and the camera shows all the frum yidden just watching and doing nothing as this woman is demeaned. And it doesn't matter if this woman is a famous trouble maker everyone knows that there are cameras everywhere and now the world sees how frum yidden don't care about women or special needs kids etc. Obviously this lawyer needs to be fired asap and I hope that someone like Rabbi Horowitz will offer a public apology on behalf of the frum leaders of the monsey school district.

If you look just at this video, you're absolutely right. But as far as my information goes all there know Peggy Hatton, and she is always there verbal and screaming, happens to be this time she spoke about her child.

I'm not defending the rough outbrake of the attorney, but she isn't the innocent mom just raising her issues there. (She starts out, "you all know me here").

I believe that should the board foreseen this, they would of acted completely different, but at the moment it was difficult for them to realize what's going out. After all he is their lawyer (he is the boards lawyer, not the schools lawyer) and know one is looking for fight with his own attorney.

6

 Jul 04, 2013 at 04:18 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
joeynathan Says:

anonymous
as someone who refuses to use there name , what do you know about hilchos chillul hashem. as my late mother used to say there are three sides to every story , A&B∧ THE TRUTH. so unless you were there for the whole meeting please don't pasken halocha.

from your remark it is obvious that you did not watch the profanity laced video which I applaud you for not watching. Unfortunately a three sides to the story works when its he said she said - in this case all over the media we have the world watching the two videos together and the world sees a woman being cursed out and jews ( except 1) doing nothing about it. I am sure this woman is no angel but the way the world will see these videos it's a massive chilul hashem.! ( if you read the vin editorial they seem to agree with me)

7

 Jul 04, 2013 at 04:19 PM MonseyLuke Says:

Mr. Rothman is a true gentleman. It appears the current "soft spoken" Board Chair should be replaced by Mr. Rothman. Had the situation been diffused in the Board Room immediately upon the attorney going AWOL, it would have never escalated to a parking lot fight scene. Mr. Rothman appears to have those skills.
Mr. Rothman was also the only Board member to remain when the former Chair duplicitously ended the meeting before the student podium time.

Mr. Rothman's comment about the attorney's unusual demeanor that evening struck a cord. From viewing the videos and even listening to one parent question if he was drunk, the man appeared to be in roid rage and completely lacking in control of his emotions. No seasoned attorney would have instigated Ms. Hatton the way he did during her time at the podium and no seasoned attorney would have lost complete control later on. Something was clearly up whether a chemical issue or a mental health one. The Board must not sweep this under the rug . This situation could have ended worse than it already did.

Again, thank you Mr. Rothman ! To the Board, choose him as your leader, you need a person of compromise, and he is it.

Luke.

8

 Jul 04, 2013 at 05:34 PM joeynathan Says:

Reply to #6  
Says:

from your remark it is obvious that you did not watch the profanity laced video which I applaud you for not watching. Unfortunately a three sides to the story works when its he said she said - in this case all over the media we have the world watching the two videos together and the world sees a woman being cursed out and jews ( except 1) doing nothing about it. I am sure this woman is no angel but the way the world will see these videos it's a massive chilul hashem.! ( if you read the vin editorial they seem to agree with me)

you missed my point , there is no chilul hashem if you don't know all the facts and that is what you seem to forget here

9

 Jul 04, 2013 at 07:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
joeynathan Says:

you missed my point , there is no chilul hashem if you don't know all the facts and that is what you seem to forget here

No offense but if you really think that's the halacha - it's time to learn the halachos again.

10

 Jul 04, 2013 at 08:25 PM Anonymous Says:

Will they fire this law firm? It all depends on the Rabbonim's orders. This board is beholden to the Rabbonim and have admitted so previously in interviews. They feel the Rabbis know what is best for the entire community.

An apology is too little too late. At least ONE man on the board should have stood up and said, "Enough, already." Instead, they sat there as mutes, not knowing how to defend a woman's honor. This shows to the world that Haredim don't give a damn about women. The very next day after the terrible curse-worded videos appeared, the board needed to step up to the plate and condemn the actions.

Silence says much in this case.

11

 Jul 04, 2013 at 08:26 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
joeynathan Says:

you missed my point , there is no chilul hashem if you don't know all the facts and that is what you seem to forget here

"you missed my point , there is no chilul hashem if you don't know all the facts and that is what you seem to forget here"

All the facts are in the video. Watch it and don't make ridiculous comments.

12

 Jul 04, 2013 at 11:37 PM amicable Says:

Reply to #1  
Says:

I have seen both videos and besides for the reaction of Mr. Rothman the videos are a massive chillul hashem. If you watch the video of the woman speaking she is talking about her son a special needs child failing by one point and then the lawyer smirks at the woman and the camera shows all the frum yidden just watching and doing nothing as this woman is demeaned. And it doesn't matter if this woman is a famous trouble maker everyone knows that there are cameras everywhere and now the world sees how frum yidden don't care about women or special needs kids etc. Obviously this lawyer needs to be fired asap and I hope that someone like Rabbi Horowitz will offer a public apology on behalf of the frum leaders of the monsey school district.

I couldn't disagree more. The ONLY reason he was smirking is because he knew that she is a trouble maker. Always going on and on about this and that. She is part of the clan that scared former board president Daniel Schwartz into resigning, part of the clan that is suing the district in federal court and its board members personally, etc etc. part of the no holds barred mentality to force the Jews to pay ridiculous property taxes because G-d forbid an extra curricular art class with 3 students is cut to save money.

The attorney knew this. He was not smirking about WHAT she said. I doubt he was even listening to the words. He was smirking in general as in "here she goes again with her nonsense" -- unfortunately for the attorney what she said, this time, was easy to be sympathetic about to the unknowing public.

However, don't you dare judge someone who knows this troublemaking miscreant a lot better than you having been to the meetings with a keen understanding of exactly who he is dealing with and her ulterior motives.

This attorney shouldn't get fired. He should get an award.

13

 Jul 05, 2013 at 08:12 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
amicable Says:

I couldn't disagree more. The ONLY reason he was smirking is because he knew that she is a trouble maker. Always going on and on about this and that. She is part of the clan that scared former board president Daniel Schwartz into resigning, part of the clan that is suing the district in federal court and its board members personally, etc etc. part of the no holds barred mentality to force the Jews to pay ridiculous property taxes because G-d forbid an extra curricular art class with 3 students is cut to save money.

The attorney knew this. He was not smirking about WHAT she said. I doubt he was even listening to the words. He was smirking in general as in "here she goes again with her nonsense" -- unfortunately for the attorney what she said, this time, was easy to be sympathetic about to the unknowing public.

However, don't you dare judge someone who knows this troublemaking miscreant a lot better than you having been to the meetings with a keen understanding of exactly who he is dealing with and her ulterior motives.

This attorney shouldn't get fired. He should get an award.

if you watched the second video and still feel this way that is a major problem. Based on your reasoning if someone would cut in front of the lawyer while he was driving you would have no issue then if the lawyer pulled a gun on the offending driver. Well that's exactly what the second video showed- road rage. I am still shocked and horrified that the lawyer has not been fired yet. He must have a lot of dirt on the board members for them to swallow this even for a minute It's not like there was a hidden camera- he knew it was being videotaped and still acted out on his road rage!

14

 Jul 05, 2013 at 08:21 AM joeynathan Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

"you missed my point , there is no chilul hashem if you don't know all the facts and that is what you seem to forget here"

All the facts are in the video. Watch it and don't make ridiculous comments.

i like to watch all of the show not tidbits. get a video of the whole meeting

15

 Jul 05, 2013 at 08:23 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Says:

No offense but if you really think that's the halacha - it's time to learn the halachos again.

why , as someone who hides behind anonymous then you should learn the halachos again

16

 Jul 05, 2013 at 08:33 AM Aron1 Says:

Reply to #12  
amicable Says:

I couldn't disagree more. The ONLY reason he was smirking is because he knew that she is a trouble maker. Always going on and on about this and that. She is part of the clan that scared former board president Daniel Schwartz into resigning, part of the clan that is suing the district in federal court and its board members personally, etc etc. part of the no holds barred mentality to force the Jews to pay ridiculous property taxes because G-d forbid an extra curricular art class with 3 students is cut to save money.

The attorney knew this. He was not smirking about WHAT she said. I doubt he was even listening to the words. He was smirking in general as in "here she goes again with her nonsense" -- unfortunately for the attorney what she said, this time, was easy to be sympathetic about to the unknowing public.

However, don't you dare judge someone who knows this troublemaking miscreant a lot better than you having been to the meetings with a keen understanding of exactly who he is dealing with and her ulterior motives.

This attorney shouldn't get fired. He should get an award.

There should also be an award for posting ridiculous comments.
It makes no difference if Peggy Hatton is "known troublemaker and here we go again". Mr. Kirby was not some spectator. He is (was?) a highly paid professional, paid not only to use the expertise of his profession, but to act professionally. He did not, not by any stretch of the imagination. You actually applaud him? Too bad there isn't an Idiot Award.

17

 Jul 05, 2013 at 09:42 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
amicable Says:

I couldn't disagree more. The ONLY reason he was smirking is because he knew that she is a trouble maker. Always going on and on about this and that. She is part of the clan that scared former board president Daniel Schwartz into resigning, part of the clan that is suing the district in federal court and its board members personally, etc etc. part of the no holds barred mentality to force the Jews to pay ridiculous property taxes because G-d forbid an extra curricular art class with 3 students is cut to save money.

The attorney knew this. He was not smirking about WHAT she said. I doubt he was even listening to the words. He was smirking in general as in "here she goes again with her nonsense" -- unfortunately for the attorney what she said, this time, was easy to be sympathetic about to the unknowing public.

However, don't you dare judge someone who knows this troublemaking miscreant a lot better than you having been to the meetings with a keen understanding of exactly who he is dealing with and her ulterior motives.

This attorney shouldn't get fired. He should get an award.

"However, don't you dare judge someone who knows this troublemaking miscreant a lot better than you having been to the meetings with a keen understanding of exactly who he is dealing with and her ulterior motives."

Yes, I remember so well how we secular Jews and all other parents were called "miscreants" by former President Daniel Schwartz. Now YOU are using the same term and commending the attorney for his statements and the awful word. Hmm.

18

 Jul 05, 2013 at 10:00 AM joeynathan Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

why , as someone who hides behind anonymous then you should learn the halachos again

because you are afraid that you mite be wrong . i post my name because i have nothing to hide

19

 Jul 05, 2013 at 10:31 AM amicable Says:

Reply to #16  
Aron1 Says:

There should also be an award for posting ridiculous comments.
It makes no difference if Peggy Hatton is "known troublemaker and here we go again". Mr. Kirby was not some spectator. He is (was?) a highly paid professional, paid not only to use the expertise of his profession, but to act professionally. He did not, not by any stretch of the imagination. You actually applaud him? Too bad there isn't an Idiot Award.

I applaud all who stand up to tyranny and that is what he did. She egged him on and I'm surprised the whole room didn't blow up the way he did.

20

 Jul 05, 2013 at 11:21 AM LisaM Says:

Reply to #12  
amicable Says:

I couldn't disagree more. The ONLY reason he was smirking is because he knew that she is a trouble maker. Always going on and on about this and that. She is part of the clan that scared former board president Daniel Schwartz into resigning, part of the clan that is suing the district in federal court and its board members personally, etc etc. part of the no holds barred mentality to force the Jews to pay ridiculous property taxes because G-d forbid an extra curricular art class with 3 students is cut to save money.

The attorney knew this. He was not smirking about WHAT she said. I doubt he was even listening to the words. He was smirking in general as in "here she goes again with her nonsense" -- unfortunately for the attorney what she said, this time, was easy to be sympathetic about to the unknowing public.

However, don't you dare judge someone who knows this troublemaking miscreant a lot better than you having been to the meetings with a keen understanding of exactly who he is dealing with and her ulterior motives.

This attorney shouldn't get fired. He should get an award.

Obviously, you don't know the players involved, nor do you know the situation. As a close friend of Peggy's...funny you use the word "clan"...we did not scare Mr. Schwartz into doing anything. Rather, he was scared to lose his day job.

And to address your "extra circular comment", yes, I want ever single household in this district to pay the taxes for PUBLIC SCHOOL so that the PUBLIC SCHOOL students can take advantage of a normal and healthy curriculum. We public school parents have NO problems with the private school's curriculum. Why? Because Private Schools, religious or not, set it themselves! THEIR CHOICE!

Cutting public school to the bone and beyond just because the "Yeshivas don't have it" is EXACTLY the reason we....and Peggy is NOT part of that action by the way...are in Federal Court.

I know Peggy. I know the law firm. How dare you say that slime should get an award. My husband is Jewish, but he does not call me a "big fat c**t" in private or in public. Perhaps that is how you treat your women in your "clans", but in the real world, outside your insular one, that is IMMEDIATE cause for termination. PERIOD!

21

 Jul 05, 2013 at 11:23 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #19  
amicable Says:

I applaud all who stand up to tyranny and that is what he did. She egged him on and I'm surprised the whole room didn't blow up the way he did.

How did she "egg him on"? Talking about her child? You really have problems with women who stand up for thiogs in public, don't you?

22

 Jul 05, 2013 at 01:23 PM BPHocker Says:

Has the minuval Kirby been fired yet. A lawyer is a mouth piece for his client that means he spoke for all the frimmer yeedin on the board when he called that poor woman the most vile names in a atotally uncalled for tirade in serious need of anger management. I say poor woman knowing full well hatton is a rabble rouser because no woman should be spoken to and bullied by a beheima like kirby. Drugs, roid rage, drunk, the reason makes no difference you can't unshoot the gun and chris kirby needs to be fired.

23

 Jul 06, 2013 at 04:45 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

Will they fire this law firm? It all depends on the Rabbonim's orders. This board is beholden to the Rabbonim and have admitted so previously in interviews. They feel the Rabbis know what is best for the entire community.

An apology is too little too late. At least ONE man on the board should have stood up and said, "Enough, already." Instead, they sat there as mutes, not knowing how to defend a woman's honor. This shows to the world that Haredim don't give a damn about women. The very next day after the terrible curse-worded videos appeared, the board needed to step up to the plate and condemn the actions.

Silence says much in this case.

"She is part of the clan that scared former board president Daniel Schwartz into resigning, part of the clan that is suing the district in federal court and its board members personally, etc e"

Just remember that Daniel Schwartz fired the PREVIOUS school attorney who worked for the district for 20 years and charged 150.00 per hour. Daniel insisted we needed to spend $650.00/hour + travel time. The group he insisted on hiring are still being investigated by the state for fraud. Daniel didn't mind this type of reputation. Only we miscreants wanted a local attorney who knew the East Ramapo school district well.

FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL, TAX PAYERS!

24

 Jul 06, 2013 at 10:17 PM MonseyLuke Says:

"Still no answer! Trivia: There's a street in Spring Valley that has parts of it in 3 different Election Districts & 2 zip codes. What is it?"

This is from Spring Valley mayoral hopeful Town Councilman Friedman.

Yes, Mr. Friedman. Still no opine on your thoughts on last Tuesday's events at ERCSD's meeting. I guess electoral trivia trumps under served school children. Good job! Pander for your votes. Play trivia as children suffer and you are silent !
We know you comment on this blog, so we will await your good word.

Hoping you enjoyed the weekend at the stadium you voted blindly on.

Luke.

25

 Jul 06, 2013 at 10:41 PM MonseyLuke Says:

Today at 09:20 PM
MonseyLuke Says: Report as Inappropriate
Mr. Friedman : Is one awaiting the decision of the Rebbis before one can opine on the horrific events of last Tuesday's ERCSD meeting? Do tell. BTW, How is the financial statement for 2012 looking for the ballpark? Can't wait to share in the success!

Luke.
Reply »

26

 Jul 07, 2013 at 10:34 AM Phineas Says:

Reply to #19  
amicable Says:

I applaud all who stand up to tyranny and that is what he did. She egged him on and I'm surprised the whole room didn't blow up the way he did.

She did nothing wrong but advocate for her child. I have watched numerous videos of proceedings and listened to her radio show. She is not a trouble maker but simply has a different perspective. You can't just lazily dismiss people as trouble makers b/c they disagree with the way you do things. She has no personal animus against the frum community. I don't agree with much of what she says but she is taking part in the process.

The attorney, who is held to professional standards of conduct by the State Bar, is an animal. You don't take legal disputes personally when you are the hired professional.

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