Lakewood Update: Principal Says He Lied to Keep Kids with Disabilities In-District

Today’s story on Lakewood Public Schools in the Asbury Park Press concerns a blind and deaf minority student with serious developmental delays named Sha’Quan Peace-Doldren. Sheldon T. Boxer,  former Lakewood principal of Oak Street Elementary School says that  he lied to Sha’Quan’s parents to  keep Sha’Quan in-district with inadequate services because “he was afraid he’d lose his job if he didn’t keep a lid on special education expenditures.” In particular, he was afraid he’d “run afoul of Michael I. Inzelbuch, Lakewood’s longtime school board attorney who is also employed as the district’s non public special-education coordinator at a salary of $122,655 per year.”

In related news, on Monday night the newly-reorganized Lakewood Board of Education  replaced Inzelbuch, although he’ll continue to receive his coordinator’s salary til the end of June. In addition to that salary, he has also been paid $250/hour to serve as the “district’s spokesman,” a job typically held by the school board president (at no cost).

The Asbury Park Press piece describes how Sha’quan’s parents visited several out-of-district placements, including the School for Children with Hidden Intelligence. Lakewood Public Schools spends about $12 million per year to send 130 kids there, all of them from the Orthodox Jewish community. (These costs don’t include transportation; Lakewood reimburses each family $74 per day to transport their children to SCHI.) From the article:

Peace said the administrator who led her on a tour of the school was very gracious but told her that SCHI wouldn’t have been a good fit for Sha’Quan because there were no other deaf-blind students being taught there.

Here’s my earlier coverage of SCHI.

What do you think?

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Lakewood Public Schools Update - NJ Left Behind

  2. Families stuck in NJ's worst districts (and schools), most of which are directly administered by the State, should demand the 'thorough and efficient system of free public schools' guaranteed them and their kids under our Constitution (Art. VIII, Sec. 4). It is the responsibility of the Gov and Legislature to improve the existing system, not to create a parallel system serving only a fraction of those identified above.

  3. I am not suggesting that any other district is remotely like Lakewood. It's really its own animal.

    Your second point: ertainly that's part of the argument against OSA (and why I've advocated for eliminating Lakewood from the various proposed lists — but there's those special interests again). I think that both advocates and opponents of OSA make legitimate points and that's why it's so important to craft the legislation carefully while appreciating the urgency for families stuck in NJ's worst districts.

  4. Are you suggesting that a material number of school boards in this state are “blatantly controlled by special interests”?

    Also, isn't your last question the basis for opposition to the OSA?

  5. That's a great question, Kallikak. I apologize if I have been preoccupied with Lakewood (and I'll tone it down) but it seems to me to that its level of dysfunction is instructive and illuminating. What happens when a board is blatantly controlled by special interests? And where's the line between providing legitimate services to non-public school pupils and short-changing the kids stuck in the schools that are lousy at least in part because so many resources are devoted to others?

  6. I think we all recognize that Lakewood is a uniquely screwed-up place. What is the larger significance (for the rest of us) of what is going on there?

    I don't see why you devote so much ink to the situation, given its lack of relevance for most of your readers.

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