What’s At the Heart of Lakewood’s Problems? The Answer Is Bigger Than Cash.

On Tuesday, right after I put up this post, Lakewood Public Schools’ attorney Michael Inzelbuch filed an emergency motion to stop implementation of the budget produced by the Legislature (which Governor Murphy hasn’t signed yet).  You can see the full complaint at the bottom of this Lakewood Scoop article. An addendum notes that, in addition to the Legislature eliminating Lakewood’s $45 million in additional aid (unavailable to other underfunded districts), the Legislature’s proposed budget also …

What Do NJ’s Pension Crisis, Lakewood Public Schools, and the Murphy-Sweeney Feud Have in Common?

There’s lots of coverage today on the New Jersey State Legislature’s rewrite of the Governor’s budget. Murphy included a millionaire’s tax and $250 million in property tax relief (which comes out to about 10 bucks a month per household). The Legislature’s version nixes the millionaire’s tax, gives an extra $50 million to NJ Transit, and another $50 million for special education. However, two other items deleted from Murphy’s proposal by the Legislature are getting little …

Lakewood Isn’t Just Cheating Its Public School Children; It’s Cheating Its Orthodox Jewish Children Too.

Lakewood Public Schools is regularly sued by current and former staff members. On Friday the Asbury Park Press published a partial list of the suits, including some settlements. There is a theme to this litigation: If a staff member is unwilling to disregard the law, is invested in educational equity, and has the guts to speak up, he or she gets the boot. The victims of this “culture of fear” are not only educators with …

Something Farshtunkene* in Lakewood

When news broke last year that the FBI raided homes of 26 Lakewood ultra-Orthodox residents on charges of wrongfully collecting Medicaid, food stamps, SNAP, and SSI benefits, as well as evading property taxes that fund schools and municipal activities (see here), New Jersey Comptroller Philip J. Degnan issued a statement that said participants must make “full restitution of all improperly received funds.” Unless, that is, if you’re a Lakewood Board of Education member. Or maybe just …

Hannukah Gelt or Coal in Your Stocking? Checking in on Lakewood.

Stacey Barchenger of the Asbury Park Press is indefatigable in her investigations into the shenanigans in Lakewood Public Schools. Example: last week she reported that the district, which operates as a funding stream for 130+ private religious ultra-Orthodox Jewish day schools, used $1.6 million in federal money intended for secular material to buy religious textbooks. This is a violation of New Jersey state law and federal law. Welcome to Lakewood. From the APP story: The …

Inzelbuch asks, Where Is the Oversight in Lakewood? He Needs To Widen His Lens.

Michael Inzelbuch, Lakewood Public Schools’ Board Attorney, is in a lather, according to the Asbury Park Press. “The process seems to have broken down,” he frothed at the most recent school board meeting. “There’s no uniformity here. It’s a free-for-all. Where is the oversight?” Is he talking the district’s practice of sending ultra-Orthodox children with disabilities to yeshivas that don’t meet the state’s definition of a “school”? Is he talking about the misuse of $22 …

Guest Post: The State Must Immediately Take Over the Lakewood Board of Education

Michael Hoban was an educator for 48 years, teaching at the elementary, high school and university levels.  He was a university professor of mathematics for 35 years, is a Professor Emeritus at the City University of NY, and has lived in Lakewood for 14 years. Prof. Hoban is the senior educational consultant to Lakewood U.N.I.T.E., the group that advocates for minority families in Lakewood. This post originally appeared in the Asbury Park Press. A June 20 column by Randy Bergmann, Asbury Park Press …

Lakewood Update: HOW much Per Student?

Tonight the Lakewood Board of Education has a public meeting. Board agendas are typically unrevealing — you get to see the action items to be voted on but not the public comments, discussions, or presentations — but Lakewood, as always, is the exception to the rule. So, let’s have a look-see. First, the boilerplate language stipulating that the district is solvent is stated this way: Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-16.10, I, Kevin Campbell Interim Business Administrator/ …

Does the State Have the Courage To Take Over Lakewood Public Schools?

Jonathan Shutman,Ed.D., is a retired school principal and administrator who has worked in the Marlboro, North Brunswick, and Montclair public school districts. He is presently a part-time support ESL and math teacher for CNA and LPN students at the Monmouth County Vocational School District. He is the author of  “Disability Abuse in Educational Settings.” The recent news reported by Stacey Barchenger, “Lakewood School Board Lawyer’s $600,000 Contract Breaks Rules” reports the additional $29,000 in family health …

It’s Time for An Intervention in Lakewood

Here’s the aspiring interventionist, Deputy Assistant Education Commissioner Glenn Forney, doing the hard work of setting boundaries for the Lakewood Board of Education, specifically regarding its contract with Board Attorney Michael Inzelbuch: I have determined that the invoices and requests for payment submitted by the Board Counsel [Inzelbuch] do not meet the regulatory requirements…Please confirm through the State Monitor that these prior billing and remittance practices have ceased. Failure to do so may result in further …