York College honors judge, alumni at dinner

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York President Charles Kidd and his wife, Mary Kidd, hosted their second annual Endowment Dinner Saturday and honored New York State Supreme Court Judge Leland DeGrasse, whose historic ruling Jan. 10 changed the way public schools are funded.

Several other faculty members and alumni were recognized at the event, including Dennis Moorman, who has been a professor of music at York for 28 years and has played the piano in several Broadway shows.

Queens Borough President Claire Shulman and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, who is running for mayor on the Democratic ticket, were among the guests at the cocktail party in the school’s performing arts center on Guy R. Brewer Boulevard and at the dinner in the athletic facility on Liberty Avenue.

“In just 30 years, York has become a showcase for Queens,” Shulman said. “The programs here are very, very important to the students of the city of New York.”

Shulman presented a Declaration of Honor to Charles Kidd for his service as president of the college for the past five years.

Mary Kidd was honored by the college faculty and members of the Community Commemorative Quilt Committee, which she chairs. The committee established the endowment fund, which pays the tuition of many students who could not otherwise afford to attend the City University school.

“We didn’t want to lose any more students because they couldn’t afford to come here,” Mary Kidd said.

Charles Kidd presented the Presidential Leadership Award to DeGrasse, who gained statewide attention for his ruling in favor of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

A coalition of parents and advocacy groups filed suit in 1993 on the grounds that New York City public schools were not receiving their fair share of state funds.

In most of the state, schools are funded primary through property tax revenue, but in major cities like New York, the state decides how much money they get. DeGrasse’s ruling forced the state to change its method by Sept. 15 and report back to him on its progress in June.

“It was a historic decision for the children of this city,” Charles Kidd said. “Their education has always been underfunded.”

In his decision Jan. 10, DeGrasse specifically mentioned Queens, where every school district is overcrowded.

His ruling drew praise from most Queens politicians, and nearly everyone at the dinner mentioned the decision, including Ferrer and Shulman.

“He wrote the definitive legal opinion on the state’s funding for education,” Shulman said. “I am here to honor him because that was very special.”

City Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst), who is running for borough president, compared the decision to Brown vs. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that made school segregation illegal.

State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) called DeGrasse “my hero” and Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) also congratulated the judge.

Charles Kidd presented the Community Leadership Award to Moorman, who helped plan the college’s two-month Martin Luther King celebration two years in a row.

“The greatest pleasure I have continues to be the contribution to the lives of York College students,” said Moorman, who has also worked with entertainers Bette Midler and Sammy Davis Jr.

Mary Kidd gave special awards to the dinner co-chairmen, Bill McCreary and Andrew Cooper, and several dozen alumni of the college.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

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