That’s Gustavo Martinez of the Asbury Park Press, who has been doing a stellar job covering the latest antics at Lakewood Public School District. Currently the district is one of 59 (out of 611) open for learning full-time five-days-a-week learning, despite teachers’ pleas to adopt a hybrid schedule because, the union alleges, the district is out of compliance with New Jersey’s social distancing and hygiene rules. Martinez’s reporting appears to verify that.
Among the complaints from staff, via Lakewood teacher union president Kim Shaw:
There’s a complete lack of social distancing and the Plexiglas barriers are inadequate. The district has done nothing to reduce class size. If a classroom were a restaurant it would be a complete violation of the governor’s safety guidelines of 25 people or 25% of the room’s capacity.
I’d also point out that Lakewood children are riding school buses that are supposed to hold no more than 28 students but instead hold 41, rendering social-distancing impossible. Those buses are also used by 37,000 non-public school students traveling to 130 yeshivas and those children don’t wear masks or social-distance.
Meanwhile, I get emails every day from Inzelbuch (so do other press outlets), most recently slamming the teachers union and kvelling about how well things are proceding with full-time in-person learning. Below are three emails. The first is from Superintendent Laura Winters responding to LEA President Shaw’s concerns about district lack of complliance, the second is Shaw’s response, and the third is an email from Inzelbuch accusing Shaw of “hate and personal bias.” I haven’t edited the emails for typos, etc.
(Note: In Inzelbuch’s reply [scroll to bottom], he links the reopening to “a reported significant reduction in alleged domestic abuse” among the district’s almost entirely low-income Latino immigrant families. Seems like an odd —and biased—claim. Where is he seeing a “reported reduction”? Isn’t it awfully soon to draw inferences like that? Was Lakewood experiencing an uptick in domestic abuse during the summer? If so, first I’ve heard. Anyway, curious what others think.)
From Lakewood Superintendent Laura Winters to Lakewood Education Association President Kimberlee Shaw:
Good Evening Kim,
Thank you for meeting with me this afternoon at the District Office to discuss your concerns.
I had a chance to review the following with District Administrators:
Aramark Lack of Supplies:
There was no discussion of a lack of supplies in the District. There was a discussion of staff members not having their bottle of 364H, as they must sign the bottle out with their building Principal, or Charlie DePeri.
Cleaning Log Sheets – Posted in the hallways of Schools – Not Signed/Completed every hour.
The Cleaning Log Sheets were just implemented by Aramark. Custodians have been extremely busy, and are adjusting to signing the log sheets. They are committed to their hourly cleaning schedule, and will be more conscientious in regard to signing every hour.
364H – Any Physical Education/Teacher in the District, who does not have their “own” bottle of the 364H should notify Charlie DePeri, via email, and he will make sure they receive it ASAP.
All staff members must follow the same procedure in regard to cleanliness:
- Report concerns to your Building Principal
- Building Principal will notify the Head Custodian
- Projects that the Head Custodian cannot do, the building Principal will give permission for one of the secretaries to process a Work Order.
- Any immediate Action Needed, the Principal will Notify Charlie DePeri or Jeff Frantz.
In regard to comments made by an Administrator to the District “not” hiring additional Custodial staff, and only changing schedules of custodians – this is incorrect.
The DIstrict approved $530,000.00 in additional COVID-19 custodial assistance, and Aramark is doing a great job working towards accomplishing that goal.
Student Daily Screenings
As we discussed, a District robocall was sent out this evening reminding parents to complete the Daily parent screener. I received the following responses:1) My teacher did not send me any survey.2) My mom completed it in Google Classroom.3) The student sent me the survey via email.
I sent staff members and Principals the responses so they can remind teachers that it is their responsibility to “send” each parent in their class the daily screener every day. Parents are more than willing to submit a response…as long as they receive the screener to complete.
Thank you for your support in keeping students and staff safe!!
StaffingPrincipals have created new schedules utilizing staff in their buildings to cover lunch periods, as not to rely on substitutes.
The District has been extremely fortunate in having substitutes in the buildings each day, as well as floaters! An increase in sub pay helped!
Thanks to our dedicated staff, the first 5 days of schools have been amazing! (We did have a few bumps along the way.)
I have been thoroughly impressed, as I am sure you have been as well!
Laura A. Winters, Chief School Administrator
From LEA President Kimberlee Shaw to Dr. Winters:
I am in receipt of your September 7, 2020 response to our list of September 1, 2020 concerns. You failed to address our concerns again and are clearly looking to the LEA to name names. As the employer, you have an obligation to provide a healthy and safe work environment. Every building in the District is in violation of the District Reopening Plan and there are numerous cited health and safety concerns District-wide and in multiple rooms in each building. Your pattern of retaliation towards the staff who bring concerns forward to the union is of the utmost concern and as a result, we will not be providing you with specific names. You have been provided our concerns numerous times, dating back to August 14,2020 and again, all you are looking to do it pacify us with unsatisfactory answers. It is clear that the buildings are not ready, PPE is not uniformly available for staff and students, the plexiglass is inadequate, cleaning supplies are not uniformly available, and the buildings are still not cleaned. You are placing all staff members in immediate harm and we will hold you personally accountable.
You have also failed to provide us with the completed Building Ventilation Checklist as well as the answers to the staff questions.
From Lakewood Attorney Michael Inzelbuch to Shaw, Winters, NJEA leaders, and sundry other folks:
Good morning .
What I believe is being missed in the communications I was copied on yesterday afternoon and last evening is the PRIDE we should all have in our District having near record attendance , a reported significant reduction in alleged domestic abuse since we announced plans to reopen and the actual re-opening , and a reinvigorated partnership with our clients/stakeholders —public parents/guardians and students- who often feel disenfranchised due to their legal status , poverty, etc. .
I want to thank all who allowed this to happen .
And for those few who continue to try to stop it – please reconsider your wasted efforts and consider utilizing that energy of apparent hate and personal bias as demonstrated ,in part, in the baseless accusations of Ms. Shaw now directed at the Superintendent (obviously authored and cleared by those who don’t work nor reside in our great mosaic called Lakewood) ,
As far as the acrimonious and baseless accusations – the time has come to move on and attempt to collaborate in the best interests of our Town that many of us call home .
It is clear the District’s children prevailed –this past summer when programming was provided , when evaluations were completed for special education children and ELL learners , and now when thousands are receiving in person education – all over the dilatory tactics of a few .
Are there issues ?
Of course .
THUS, I have been again authorized to offer an in person meeting with the Union leadership with no preconditions .
THUS, I have been again authorized to allow the alleged Union expert, Allen B, to meet with our facilities staff .
Hoping we all can lay down our swords and turn them in to plowshares so we can plant and nourish the next generation of leaders — our students.