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Bernard Charles campaigns at Hasidic Jewish rally against Internet 'evils'
It seems school board member and Spring Valley mayoral candidate Bernard Charles had a better place to be Thursday night than an NAACP forum -- a place where there were far more voters to whom to make his campaign pleas.
Rather than attending a community forum hosted by the NAACP, Charles was spotted at Rockland Boulders stadium where thousands of Hasidic Jewish men and boys gathered to hear about the dangers of the Internet, a source told Newsday.
Charles, who is the son of a former NAACP president, was criticized earlier this week by members of the NAACP and public school advocates. They called for him to attend the community forum, where about 125 black and Latino residents gathered to meet candidates for school board. Charles has put together a slate of three candidates, including Pierre Germain, a Haitian American, and MaraLuz Corado, a Latina pastor.
Charles told Newsday last week he intends to represent all community members on the board, though public school advocates have questioend his ties to the Orthodox Jewish community. Charles has not since returned several calls for comment.
Orthodox Jews, whose children attend the region's private religious schools, hold a majority on the East Ramapo School Board. While the leaders insist they're doing their best to manage a school district underfunded by the state, public school advocates there say the board members favor religious school interests in their decision making. Public school programs have suffered drastic cuts in the past several years.
Charles was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy and will run for election on May 21.
Charles, wearing a dark short-sleeved shirt and blue Boulders cap, schmoozed with the crowd at the Provident Bank Park gates while he handed out campaign fliers in Yiddish. Some Hasidic men were also handing out the fliers, a source told Newsday.
"A friend of mine pointed out that he was the new one on the school board, so we went over to talk to him," said one man who attended the event. "He introduced himself as Bernard Charles and gave us a handout in Yiddish about the school election coming up. He spoke to us about the district and we thanked him for his service. He was a very nice man."