Several concerned Ramapo residents reached out to us to investigate a possible fake Facebook profile while many others were concerned about the Ramapo Teacher’s Association’s endorsement of two of the three candidates running for the school board. Much of the concern about the RTA endorsements surrounded two issues: 1. Should the RTA be allowed to endorse candidates when they have a vested interest in upcoming contract negotiations? 2. The RTA endorsed Joseph Gravagna and to many they question the credibility of that endorsement.
First things first, The Ramapo Teacher’s Association, the union that represents the interests of the teachers in the Ramapo Central School District has every right to endorse any candidate(s) that they choose. Their stated mission and in fact the stated mission of all unions is to represent the interests of their members. Essentially unions are charged with fighting for increased pay for their members, improving working conditions, offering services to their members and are actively involved in dispute resolution. Most unions do an excellent job for their dues-paying members. The only people who should follow the recommendation of a union are the members of that specific union.
School boards have an entirely different mission:
According to the Center for Public Education: “First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda, it is the only item.”
Unions represent the interests of their members; school boards represent the interests of the children. School boards have a fiduciary responsibility to their district and must balance out the demands of a number of different constituencies with different goals and objectives but ultimately the needs of the children must come first.
The second topic is the shenanigans that have gone on during recent school board elections. Fake Facebook profiles crop up each election season that advocate for one side while often denigrating the other.
We have exposed more than a half dozen fake profiles over the years. Who can forget Samuel Kosanovich a few years ago. Our good friend Sammy was advocating on behalf of Joseph “Joe Knows” Gravangna—the same candidate that the RTA endorsed the following year. How about William Tisi? The coward behind that account got nasty with me before he was exposed for being a fraud and the fake account was deleted.
A few days ago the profile of Jose Valdez caught the attention of several residents who reached out to us. We did a preliminary check and quickly determined that it was a fake account. We alerted Facebook and it didn’t take long before the fake account was shut down. To make matters worse this Facebook troll took an unfair poke at our friends at Sloatsburg Village. We couldn’t let that stand.
In recent years we went further; using an outside vendor we were actually able to isolate the locations where the posts from a number of fake profiles were coming from. The frightening part was that our vendor, an overseas computer guru with no knowledge of our area and with absolutely no bias or skin in the game was able draw a circle around small clusters of homes and/or buildings that the posts were coming from. We didn’t go to that length this time but the process is in place should this practice continue.
This is a school board election; people need to make informed choices based on who they feel are those best to address the issues facing this district. Vote for those who you feel will best represent the interests of the children; those who will always put the children first. Voting based upon the biased opinions posted by those hiding behind fake Facebook profiles borders on being irresponsible.