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The Villages: A Happy 4th and Unhappy Look at Nyack Schools

Happy Independence Day! We start with a look at the recent upheaval, including three high-profile resignations, at the Nyack school district. Plus, more news, your weekly weather prediction, Covid updates, upcoming meetings and much more!

This week in the Villages: Happy Independence Day! We start with a look at the recent upheaval, including three high-profile resignations, at the Nyack school district. Plus, more news, your weekly weather prediction, Covid updates, upcoming meetings and much more!

Liberty Elementary school
Elementary school dismissal. Photo: Susan Hellauer

What’s Going at Nyack Schools?

Happy 4th of July Weekend Everyone!

While we hope everyone is enjoying time with family and friends this Independence Day, it’s clearly past time we asked: what’s going on in the Nyack school district?

Let’s start with a brief recap of the recent upheaval.

On June 8, Nyack Superintendent Eudes Budhai announced the resignation of Upper Nyack Elementary School Principal Melissa Pittman, less than one year into the job. Without offering details about why she was leaving, Budhai thanked Pittman for attempting to bring “some semblance of normalcy” back to school during the pandemic.

On June 27, LoHud highlighted the story of Jerell Jones, the Nyack High School head football coach and teacher who said he resigned after being falsely accused of using harsh language, including the N-word, with his players. Jones was officially reprimanded for the language in a move he believed was racially motivated. Before resigning, Jones said Budhai empathized his situation but told him he couldn’t do anything about it. (The district said it “disagreed” with Jones’ version of events without offering any specifics.)

On June 30, the Nyack School Board released a statement saying Budhai — who, just last summer, had signed a four-year contract worth $265,000 annually and been lauded for his equity and inclusion focus — and the board “have mutually agreed to separate,” effective immediately.

(While the board “explores next steps”, Lizzette Ruiz-Giovinazzi, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, will become acting superintendent.)

Now, we won’t pretend to have any definitive answers here, but if you look at the series of events encapsulated above, it’s clear something is going on.

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For now, we’ll let the facts mostly speak for themselves.

But, suffice to say, it’s extremely hard to see the resignations of three people of color in high-profile leadership positions leaving the district in the span of a few months as something other than a wild coincidence.

The question remains: what’s going on in the Nyack school district?

Stay tuned . . .

Quote of the Week

After a difficult year that included an ongoing pandemic and other challenges, the Nyack Union Free School District Board of Education and Superintendent Eudes S. Budhai have mutually agreed to separate. Mr. Budhai has resigned from his position, effective June 30th, 2022. Mr. Budhai extends his appreciation to the students, staff and community and the Board wishes him well in his future endeavors.The nyack board of education

In Other Relevant News

  • The state is looking for hazardous trees on Palisades Parkway after a falling tree on the parkway recently killed a beloved West Haverstraw deli owner. [LoHud]
  • Ramapo police are investigating antisemitic vandalism at a Monsey synagogue. [LoHud]
  • Meet an unlikely pair of enterprising digital marketing entrepreneurs making it in Nyack. [RBJ]
  • Local stuff to do on Independence Day. [LoHud]
  • ICYMI: The former head coach of the Nyack High School football team, who quietly resigned in March, is now speaking out about what he considered racist disciplinary steps taken by the school last fall. [LoHud] Robert Berliner, a state supreme court judge who oversees Rockland County, agreed to retire last week rather than respond to charges that he improperly engaged in political activity — a big no-no for judges — brought by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. [RCBJ]
  • ICYM Our Stuff: Bill Batson’s latest “Nyack Sketch Log”, Mike Hays’ most recent “Nyack People & Places”; and our coverage in last week’s “The Villages”.

Weather Prediction

While Independence Day should be pretty much idyllic — sunny, mid-80s — the rest of the week will be a decidedly mixed bag. Skies should clear for the upcoming weekend. [National Weather Service]

Covid Update

Severe cases and hospitalizations in the greater Nyack area remain relatively low. As of June 30, the CDC is classifying Rockland County at a “low” Covid threat level. 

Testing Info

  • More than 81.4% of eligible people in Rockland County are vaccinated with at least one dose. To schedule an appointment for a 1st dose, 3rd dose (for immunocompromised), or booster COVID-19 vaccine from any Rockland County Department of Health Clinic visit rocklandgov.com/departments/health/. To search for additional COVID-19 vaccination opportunities nearby visit vaccines.gov.
  • Find a COVID-19 testing site near you, by visiting coronavirus.health.ny.gov. Individuals who have questions regarding eligibility or access for testing should call the New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit the NYSDOH website covid19screening.health.ny.gov.

Village Updates

Nyack

  • Drop off humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine (, including first aid, painkillers, blankets, baby food, diapers, non-perishable food, antibiotics and more, at Village Hall, 9 N. Broadway (or at the Orangetown town hall, 26 W. Orangeburg Rd.).

Upper Nyack

Orangetown

Clarkstown

  • The Technical Advisory Committee, which “evaluates the technical adequacy of land development applications and decides their readiness for Planning Board review,” meets most Wednesdays, including Wednesday July 6, from 10 am to noon, in the town hall’s Historic Map Room.
  • For a calendar list of all Clarkstown meetings and events, click here.

Other Local Updates

South Nyack advocates have filed a petition with the town of Orangetown seeking to show support for a new Elizabeth Place Playground — the grassy play area and dog park just south of 87 and right off the Esposito trail. After South Nyack dissolved in March, the town found the playground equipment at Elizabeth Place was unsafe and not compliant with ADA regulations and removed it. A new ADA compliant park has been proposed and advocates want to see the proposal approved and implemented. Click here to read and/or sign the petition.

Nyack Schools

  • Masks are currently optional for all students and staff in all Nyack district schools.

Rockland-wide

  • The Reviving Rockland Restaurants Grant Program will reimburse businesses between $5,000 and $25,000 for past expenses or fund future expenses for eligible outdoor dining COVID-19 mitigation equipment. Eligible entities include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, delis, cafes, breweries, wineries, and other similar places of business. For more information and to download an application visit rocklandgov.com.
  • Fill out this survey to help the county provide better digital services.

Connect with Nyack News and Views

We want to hear from you! Send thoughts, ideas, news tips, as well as meeting and events announcements to us at info@nyacknewsandviews.com.

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.



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