Sheesh, SCHI: A Civil Rights Complaint, Plus the Director of Lakewood Special Ed School Accused of Stealing Million Dollars from the District

Last week Rabbi Osher Eisemann, the founder of the School for Hidden Intelligence (SCHI), previously arrested for mere money-laundering, is now facing corruption charges. A year ago the State said he stole $630,000 in tuition paid by Lakewood Public Schools to SCHI, a state-approved private special education that educates almost exclusively ultra-Orthodox children.. (Lakewood schools’ monthly bill to SCHI is $1.8 million for 200 students’ tuition.) This new indictment, says the Asbury Park Press, “increases the sum …

Here’s What It’s Like to Have a Teacher Think You Can’t Write Because You’re a Black Boy From Trenton.

(This piece, originally published at Education Post, is by Tre Johnson, a freelance writer on race, culture and politics. He’s also an educator, advocate and part-time superhero.) “Can you see me after school about this?” was scrawled across the last page of my essay in that trademark punitive red ink that teachers always used in school. A sinister visual, it might as well have been lettered “REDRUM.” But this wasn’t a letter grade; this was a …

Fishing for Integrity in Lakewood

Two weeks ago Jersey Matters interviewed State Senator Robert Singer about Lakewood Public Schools’ practice of placing ultra-Orthodox students with disabilities in expensive private placements like the School for Children with Hidden Intelligence (SCHI) while keeping Black and Brown students with disabilities in-district or sending them to other public placements. Here’s Singer’s answer: “They (the school) have tried and worked with the school district in trying to entice Hispanic and African-American children to come there,” …

How Do We Foster Integration and Inclusion in New Jersey?

(This is a guest post by Aggie Sung, a certified early education teacher whose passion is in children’s books that teach young learners to express themselves through art, words, and motion. Her books include “Mommy Duck.” She resides in Princeton, N.J.) Historically, the American education system has been shaped for the concept of inclusion, which means accepted without condition. Aligned with the beliefs of the ostracized Christians who settled the 13 colonies, education in America …

Confessions from A Recovering Academic; Or, The Problems with Proffered Solutions To N.J.’s Segregated Schools (with apologies to Emily Dickinson)

The Civil Rights Project has a new academic paper out called “New Jersey’s Segregated Schools Trends and Paths Forward,” a follow-up to a report on the same subject supplemented by new data from 2010-2015. This release of this report has been dutifully covered by New Jersey traditional media outlets (see the Star-Ledger, NJ Spotlight, NJ Today) by reciting a few talking points: New Jersey is more diverse than it used to be—there’s a “remarkable increase in …

Follow the Money All the Way to Lakewood; Or, Kneel to the Vaad

This just in from Matt Rooney of Save Jersey, who speculates how Governor-to-be Phil Murphy so easily secured the Democratic nomination. Says Rooney, “he bought it, Corzine-style,” but with one difference. [W]hereas Corzine did it the old fashioned way (donating HUGE sums of cash to Democrat county organizations who decide the nomination), Murphy spread the cash around through various front organizations over the course of years. Rooney is dinging Murphy here. I’m not; it’s de …

Guest Post: “The Morality Problem Lurking Below the Surface in Lakewood”

This is a guest post from Thomas G. Gatti, a Lakewood resident and supporter of municipal and educational equity. Gatti is a media consultant and former Chief Operating Officer of the College Television Network. He was previously COO of  DIR Broadcasting and an executive at Eastman Radio. (For those of you new to Lakewood’s history of shortchanging non-ultra Orthodox schoolchildren and residents, see here, here, and here. For complete NJLB coverage, click here.) ******************************************************************  I …

Surprised By the Lakewood FBI Arrests on Welfare Fraud? Don’t Be: Just Look at the Schools

Lakewood was the subject of much media attention last week, from USA Today to the Wall Street Journal to the Associated Press. Why the sudden interest? Because FBI agents and county police began arresting local Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) on charges of defrauding state and federal programs by claiming poverty and wrongfully collecting Medicaid, food stamps, SNAP, and SSI benefits, as well as evading property taxes that fund schools and municipal activities. If you’re a regular …

Lakewood Public Schools Update

There’s no shortage of news from Lakewood: even the Wall Street Journal takes notice today. Of course, they’re late to my party; no, on second thought, late to my shivah, the Jewish ritual mourning period, typically seven days but in Lakewood an eternity. I probably cover Lakewood’s morally and fiscally bankrupt schools too often, but this Ocean County school district that enrolls almost entirely Latino and Black low-income students pushes all my education reform buttons: …

Two Other Lakewood-Related Items

Number one: the Star-Ledger reports that Tobree Mostel, the supervisor of the district’s office of Chapter 192 and 193 funding  (the line items for tax dollars that contribute to tuition for special education students to attend ultra-Orthodox yeshivas) was fired for confronting the Lakewood School Board about improprieties. From the Ledger: Mostel claims in the notice that she was targeted after she objected to “certain questionable and unethical practices” by a third-party vendor handling the evaluations …