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Orthodox Jews told to stop trespassing at Monsey school

Cassandra Edwards talks to the press about the

Cassandra Edwards talks to the press about the steps takes by the community members to get increased security at Grandview Elementary school in Pomona. (Oct. 9, 2012) Photo Credit: John Meore

Trespassing at Grandview Elementary School came to a halt Tuesday after the school district told local religious Jewish leaders that the property is off limits.

"We spoke to community people and said, 'Don't walk through the grounds,' " said East Ramapo School Superintendent Joel Klein. "People called and we called residents, religious people, a whole collection of people, to remind them."

The issue of trespassing by Orthodox Jews who cut through the playground on their way home or to synagogue on religious holidays has been a concern for more than a decade, school officials have said. Tuesday was the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah; driving is forbidden for religious Jews on holidays.

"All we want is for our kids to be safe," said Cassandra Edwards, who organized a group of volunteers to patrol the perimeter of the school during Jewish holy days last week.

A white sign with red lettering is displayed in front of the school on Grandview Avenue. It states that it is "East Ramapo Central School District Property." The sign lists "prohibited activities" such as loitering as well as possession of alcohol, unauthorized parking and animals.

"They probably told their congregations that they couldn't walk through here, so they stopped," said Tom Carton, the school district security director, who was at the school Tuesday.

A Newsday reporter, considered a trespasser, was not admitted onto school property Tuesday.

Two security guards from the school district were seen walking around the playground during recess time Tuesday.

"We haven't had any issues at all today," Carton said.

Last week, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, tensions were high when the volunteers tried to stop Jewish families from using the school grounds as a shortcut in the rain. Police were called to the school Oct. 2 after the parents got into heated arguments with Orthodox Jewish families crossing the property.

Klein said the district is working to find a permanent solution.

"We've been working this for months," he said. "People want to get together to come up with a solution."

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