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BacktoSchoolThe Scarsdale Restart Committee will be providing the Community with its Restart Plan on Monday, August 3rd. There is an extremely abbreviated window to review this information and to provide feedback to the Restart Committee, before it is presented to NY State on August 7th. This is the first time that the plan is being shared with the parents of current Scarsdale School children, who are identified as key stakeholders in the NYS ED Guidance. To leverage extensive community expertise, and to provide a somewhat unified response from parents, a grass roots effort has been started to have interested parents, as part of the Scarsdale Restart Plan Review Group, align with the following areas for feedback:

-The Restart Task Groups (Athletics, Communications, Food Service, Human Resources, Medical/Nursing,
-Technology, Transportation, and Facilities)

-Academics - Elearning improvements, Curriculum Impact, In-Person Class Prioritization, IEP/504, Cohorts/Pods

-Mental Health - AAP Guidance for School Re-entry

-Legal - NYS ED Guidance, other legal concerns

-Covid-19 - Infectious Disease, testing expertise

We are in most need of expertise in Facilities, Transportation, Human Resources, and Food Service. Also, anyone who has experience implementing elearning systems, and any parent who is definite that they want their child(ren) to opt out, regardless of any plan that may be proposed, would help add perspective to the feedback. Please e-mail dgurden@optonline.net if you are interested in joining the effort, and specify where you would like to align yourself and the grade(s) of your child(ren).

There has also been some interest shown by Scarsdale Village residents, who do not have children currently in the Scarsdale Schools, and an effort is being made to facilitate their comments as well. Although there is overlap, the parents of children currently in Scarsdale Schools are more directly impacted by the Restart Plans. To facilitate discussion, there have been two Facebook groups created:

Scarsdale Restart Plan Review – Parents of Scarsdale Students - click here
Scarsdale Restart Plan Review – Residents - click here

For transparency, this is a grass roots effort driven by parents, and it is not officially sanctioned by the Restart Committee, Scarsdale Schools, the PTC, PTA, Board of Education, or Scarsdale Village.

votebymailThe risk is 'hiding in plain sight,' based on the US Constitution 12th Amendment, which has received very little attention since its last invocation in 1824. It provides a blueprint for how Trump might be re-elected even if he has fewer electoral votes and fewer popular votes than Biden. If there are not 270 electors chosen by January 6, 2021, the House of Representatives elects the President with 26 votes, with each state having only one vote. The current House has 26 states with Republican majorities.

Scarsdale resident Michael Otten is a former President of the Scarsdale School Board, and a co-founder of a non-partisan group of business and law school alumni called "Reform Elections Now." This association was formed two years ago with the objective to explore political innovations that could improve our democracy and make government work. The group runs a monthly education Zoom on election issues and they will discuss the problem described above at 5:00 pm, Tuesday 28 July, with free registration at A Constitutional Crisis Could be Coming: Why it could take until 2022 to resolve the 2020 election. You are invited to participate. Click here to register.

According to Otten, New York’s experience with absentee ballots has taught us that the state is not well positioned for the November 3rd election. Few of us realize the significant danger of a scenario playing out for this election that could invalidate our votes for Congressional and Presidential candidates. If there are delays, due to legal or administrative challenges to the November votes, which call in question the final count, we are likely to be in a position where we cannot declare a Presidential outcome by December 8, which, according to the National Conference of State Legislators, is the “Deadline for Resolving Election Disputes, [by which time] All state recounts and court contests over presidential election results must be completed...”* With a president warning of electoral fraud, and NY having very little experience with Vote-by-Mail, we might easily miss that date.

The impact occurs when a new Congress takes office on January 6, when the President of the Senate, Michael Pence, tabulates the Electoral votes. If no candidate has the requisite 270 electoral votes, the US Constitution 12th Amendment dictates that the President is elected by the House of Representatives with one vote per state. There are currently 26 states with Republican majorities. If New York, and other states, like Pennsylvania, have not yet finalized their votes by then, the election might no longer be based on popular or electoral vote.
There are things we can do to avoid this for Westchester, NY State and other jurisdictions that are not prepared for the onslaught of absentee ballots:

1. We should work now to improve the local Registration Rolls to reduce related challenges.

2. We should enlarge the Early Voting period to two weeks, as is already the case for some states. This might require the NY Legislature being called back into session.

3. We should process ballots as soon as they are received, resolving administrative or interpretation issues in advance of counting votes.

4. Although we might want to start counting the ballots when received, there are concerns that this can result in double counting if an individual votes in person after having submitted an absentee ballot. I hope you can find a way to resolve this potential issue by law or administrative directive, e.g., by not allowing a vote if a valid ballot has already been processed.

5. We should put in place a process to resolve any challenges in the allowed five weeks from November 3 to December 8. We cannot afford several months delay in results, as has already been experienced in multiple previous Congressional elections. (Senator Al Franken was finally seated in June 2009.)

Otten The bottom line is that if we do not take action now, there is a reasonable chance that our voters’ votes will not count at all and the election of the President will be made by a probably partisan vote of 26 to 24 in the House of Representatives.

Register here to join the online conversation

Dr. Otten is a former President of the Scarsdale School Board, a retired international business executive with IBM, a part-time graduate school professor, as well as co-founder of a non-partisan group of business and law school alumni called "Reform Elections Now." This association formed two years ago with the objective to explore political innovations that could improve our democracy and make government work, and runs a monthly education Zoom on such subjects as Gerrymandering, Ranked Choice Voting, Opening Primaries and Voting-by-Mail.

awardLast week, two Scarsdale High School students were granted prestigious awards for outstanding accomplishments. Charlotte Meyers was recognized for her civic efforts to stimulate social change and equity. Magan Chin, a star on the volleyball court, was granted a scholarship award for her athletic abilities.

Charlotte MeyersCharlotte Meyers, a graduated senior from SHS, was one of seven teens acknowledged by the Westchester County Youth Board for Social Justice Initiatives.

Charlotte was noted for her work supporting the White Plains Family Health Clinic and as a Research Intern for the National Center for Children in Poverty. In addition, Charlotte was acknowledged as an entrepreneur using a portion of the proceeds from her business Reflections by CharM to underwrite fundraisers for the WPH Clinic and to contribute to Feeding Westchester.

magan chinScarsdale High School’s Magan Chin earned the Tony Sabella Award at the Con Edison Westchester Scholastic Sports Awards.

Magan Chin was one of the 26 teens awarded “Athlete of the Week” during the 2019-2020 school year. Most importantly, she was one of the four students given an additional scholarship award for their exemplary accomplishments. The Tony Sabella Award, earned by Magan, includes a $5,000 scholarship. Magan Chin has been a star on the court for quite a while as captain of her volleyball team. She will continue to soar when she attends Barnard College.

JamaalBowmanJamaal Bowman, a 44 year-old middle school principal from the Baychester section of the Bronx, defeated16 term incumbent Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary for the 16th congressional district which includes Scarsdale. Bowman lives in Yonkers with his wife and their three children.

Though all the absentee ballots have not yet been counted, Bowman was declared the winner with a 13,000 vote lead over Engel.

Commenting on the victory, Bowman said, “I’m a Black man who was raised by a single mother in a housing project. That story doesn’t usually end in Congress. But today, that 11-year old boy who was beaten by police is about to be your next Representative.

“From the very beginning, we anchored our campaign in the fight for racial and economic justice. We spoke the truth -- about the police, about systemic racism, about inequality -- and it resonated in every part of the district.
“We brought people together across race, across class, across religion, across gender, to fight for justice, to fight for equality, and to fight to create a country that works for all of us. We didn’t let them divide us. And we did it all without accepting a dime from corporate PACs or lobbyists.

“The world has changed. Congress needs to change too. But if we can take on entrenched power and wealthy interests here in Westchester and the Bronx, then we can do it all across this country."

“I’m ready to get to work. I cannot wait to get to Washington and cause problems for the people maintaining the status quo.”

I another press release, Bowman commented on President Trump’s threat to cut off aid from school districts that do not reopen in September. He said, "The federal government has completely failed our children and our families throughout this entire pandemic. Now, as Donald Trump aims his fire at school districts that won’t haphazardly reopen, we don’t have to keep accepting his failures as the best we can do. Just because he is too incompetent to lead, doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t. In fact, the wellbeing of our kids, the health of our families, and the rehabilitation of our economy depend on it."

"First and foremost, you can't plan for a safe reopening when you can't pay for a safe reopening. So, where the hell is the money schools need? Congress needs to pass the HEROES Act with funding for school districts. Republicans in Congress have wasted months of time and billions of dollars, instead of creating safe solutions for our children. Not only do Republicans in Congress lack imagination, they lack compassion."

"As a public middle school principal, I know our schools are intimate communities within our greater communities. Reopening schools should not fall on just the shoulders of teachers and administrators. We need to have collaborative conversations with teachers, administrators, parents, students, physicians and all stakeholders. We need to create a plan for addressing and healing the collective traumas that our students and their families have faced during this unprecedented pandemic. Reopening will be a disaster, unless we come together now to create a cooperative plan that best meets everyone’s needs."

"It is the safety, health, and futures of our children, and our country, at stake here, and we can’t wait for Republicans to do their jobs. Our schools could be part of the problem, but I say let’s make them part of the solution. Let’s fight for funding to install proper ventilation systems to limit spreading the virus, and for supplies to keep our classrooms clean and safe. Let’s do as much COVID-19 testing, symptom monitoring, and contact tracing in our schools as possible. Let’s provide our students, teachers, and school workers with masks, that they can also use at home and in public. Let's be prepared to listen to public health experts and keep our class sizes as small as possible as we use creative solutions, like keeping windows and doors open, or educating in larger spaces like theaters."

"Let’s reopen schools, but let’s do it safely. Despite what our failing president says, the two are not mutually exclusive. Our children deserve an education, and they deserve to be healthy and safe. Period. Let’s make it happen."

Bowman is favored to win the seat in November as there is no Republican candidate and only one other challenger from the Conservative Party.

Hershey Samuel desktopIn July 2018 Scarsdale10583 reported that Scarsdale resident and attorney Sam Hershey worked with the Legal Aid Society to overturn the conviction of a man who had been wrongfully imprisoned for 20 years. Now he has done it again!

This time, Hershey, working pro bono with a team at White & Case, cleared Eric DeBerry in connection with a 1999 shooting. On June 23, DeBerry was released from Mohawk Correctional Facility in upstate New York where he wrongfully served over 20 years in prison.

Commenting on the outcome Hershey said, "We are thrilled for Eric and his family as they reunite for the first time in over 20 years. This is a proud moment for our Firm and an outstanding accomplishment for our team that worked tirelessly on this case and never lost faith that justice would prevail."

"I want to thank the team at White & Case for believing in me and fighting for me," DeBerry said. "After 20 years in prison, I am finally home with my family, including my daughter, who was three months old when I was incarcerated. It is a new beginning for which I have long hoped and am extremely grateful."

Hershey graduated Scarsdale High School in 2001, from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005 and from Columbia Law School in 2012. He now lives in Fox Meadow with his wife and two young children in Fox Meadow and says he returned because, “Scarsdale is a wonderful place to live and a wonderful place to raise a family.”

Here are the facts of the case:

White & Case LLP, working pro bono, achieved victory at the Brooklyn Supreme Court and successfully reversed the conviction of Eric DeBerry in connection with a 1999 shooting.

Following a two-day evidentiary hearing in December 2019 and January 2020, the court found that DeBerry had proven by clear and convincing evidence that he is actually innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted—the first finding of actual innocence in New York State since 2014. DeBerry was released from Mohawk Correctional Facility in upstate New York on June 23, having wrongfully served over 20 years in prison.

DeBerry's conviction occurred in connection with the 1999 shooting of Kareem Collins in Brooklyn. Collins told detectives that he was shot during an armed robbery perpetrated by DeBerry, who was later arrested and charged. He pleaded not guilty and consistently maintained his innocence. Nonetheless, following a jury trial in which Collins testified as the People's primary witness, DeBerry was convicted of assault, robbery and criminal possession of a weapon and sentenced to 25 years to life.

In 2003, DeBerry's claims of innocence were bolstered when Roberto Velasquez came forward and issued a sworn affidavit testifying that he, not DeBerry, was the shooter. Acting pro se, DeBerry filed a motion asserting his innocence. A hearing was held and Velasquez testified. The judge found Velasquez not credible, primarily because his rendition of the shooting differed markedly from the testimony Collins had given at trial. DeBerry's motion was denied, and he remained incarcerated.

In a major breakthrough in DeBerry's case, in 2018, Collins came forward to issue his own sworn affidavit setting forth the truth about the shooting—that he was not the victim of an armed robbery, as he originally testified, but that he was actually trying to rob Velasquez, who shot him instead. This version of events matches exactly what Velasquez stated in his 2003 affidavit and during the hearing. Collins states that he has come forward because he only recently learned of Velasquez's affidavit and wants to do the right thing.

Friends and family of DeBerry reached out to Hershey regarding the case, and White & Case, following a review of the facts and circumstances, agreed to take up DeBerry's cause. Working with the White & Case team, DeBerry filed a new motion based on the new evidence presented in Collins's affidavit. The DA's Office opposed the motion, and a two-day evidentiary hearing followed. On June 16, the Brooklyn Supreme Court overruled the DA's Office's opposition and held that DeBerry had proven by clear and convincing evidence that he is actually innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted.

We asked Hershey what the government does in cases like these to provide compensation to the victim? How will they help DeBerry make up for lost time and get back on his feet?

Hershey replied, “Generally speaking, the government does not do anything to compensate someone like Eric unless he successfully sues them. I am working with another client, who I also helped free from prison, on such a lawsuit.”

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