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Ridgewood News Purposeful Misrepresentations ?

>Submitted to The Ridgewood News

To the editor:

While it is fair to say that most editors save their opinion for the
editorial pages, clearly some do not. Your article on a recently
filed civil rights lawsuit to stem the purposeful discrimination that
was proliferated against our then 12-year old daughter lacked
credibility. It provided far too many errors, of omission and
commission, which, despite efforts to suppress them, nonetheless rose
to the surface as misrepresented facts collided uncomfortably with
uninformed opinion.

This begs the question: how many times is the editor of the Ridgewood
News allowed to bend the truth without having her credibility broken?
One, five, nine? In the above mentioned article, no less than seven
errors emanated from the first few paragraphs of a hate-filled rant
against our efforts to protect rights to which all are entitled.

Some of these falsehoods even prompted one letter writer to shrill
shamelessly that we should “move” out of town, a town to which I first
moved in 1969. Since when is defending a civil right the source of
such pointed venom? Or are the “rules” just different in Ridgewood?

What concerns me, however, is that the nature and subjectivity of
these errors appear designed to be purposefully mean-spirited. One is
left to wonder at the editor’s true purpose in making them. Take for
instance the following (for clarification, I use italics for what was
stated in the original article):

“…Caitlin Alvaro had asked to play on her brother’s fifth and sixth
grade recreation-league team..”

Our daughter never asked to be on her brother’s team. She asked to be
included in the draft of boys for her grade’s recreation basketball
league, to be drafted for any team like any other player. Though she
completed the evaluation, she was later denied participation and was
removed from the draft by the Biddy organization. After the New
Jersey Division of Civil Rights became involved, Biddy eventually
assigned her to the team on which our son also played, though they
continued to deny her permission to play.

“Despite what her father said was a skillful performance in her

Caitlin’s father never said such a thing. It was merely noted in the
complaint that she had successfully sunk all five of the required
baskets during that particular evaluation. It is solely the editor’s
opinion that this constituted a “skillful performance.”

“…two sides reached a settlement requiring Ridgewood Biddy

There was not a settlement, monetary or otherwise, but an agreement by
Biddy to obey the law. This took place between the NJDCR and the
Ridgewood Biddy Inc. The Alvaro’s were neither present nor asked to
participate in this conference. The Ridgewood School district, a
party to the complaint, did not attend, thereby maintaining an active complaint
against them with the NJDCR. Biddy honored this agreement and so is not
a party named in this lawsuit. They allowed Caitlin to play in the
boy’s league the next two years. Her team reached the championship
game the first year, and she was honored by her teammates with the
selection to play on the all-star team this year. Teammates and other
players were always exemplary in their manner towards her.

“…Alvaro is seeking unspecified monetary compensation…pain and
suffering, while watching those games from the bench.”

Having a player sit on the bench is not against the law, nor is it a
reason for seeking compensation. That the editor would make such a
statement is totally ludicrous and misleading.

“…a history of adversarial relations with the school district.”

This characterization by the editor is selectively pejorative. It is
possible to disagree and not be adversarial; only the ignorant to presume
otherwise. District and Village officials have always and continue to
extend the utmost courtesy to our family. We return this treatment

“…taking legal action against the board for sponsoring what they
felt was an invasive survey.”

Though later “clarified” by the editor, the purpose of this knowingly
false statement was reprehensible. Seven parents filed complaints
against the school board for the survey and three filed a federal lawsuit. Were
they also “adversarial?” My contribution was to work tirelessly toward
getting a law passed in New Jersey to prevent such an encroachment on
parental rights. The far superior and more appropriate “norms” survey
recently given in the High School was a welcome result of such

“…include resistance to renovations at Orchard Elementary School.”

Also knowingly untrue. Our disagreement was not with renovations,
which we welcomed, but with the building of a new addition on top of
the basketball courts which parents had recently provided for our
children with money from their own pockets. What the editor did not
reveal to her readers was that I sat in her office and she looked over
our 200 signatures from parents who signed a petition asking to change
the addition’s location. She knew this was a majority position– two hundred
signatures from a population of fewer than 350 students. Her efforts to
mislead and characterize this as “adversarial” by means of singular
intent are shockingly dishonest.

So, how many times may an editor bend the truth before her
credibility is broken? Only her publisher knows.

Frances Edwards