Lakewood Follies: Inzelbuch Lawyers Up (At District Expense)

The agenda for Wednesday evening’s Lakewood Board of Education meeting included two items, both involving BOE attorney Michael Inzelbuch, well-known for his $750,000 annual salary and complete dominance over district matters. These agenda items may be clues to his and the Board’s concerns over pending litigation that alleges the districts retaliated against an employee who was, in effect, a whistleblower. It’s not that complicated. Here are agenda items 38 and 39 (page 3): 38. The …

“Simple, Equitable, Joyful, and Accessible:” Best Remote Instruction Practices From NJ Charter School Leaders

On May 19th the New Jersey Public Charter School Association held a webinar called “Learning from NJ’s Public Charter Schools during COVID-19.” Interest among the 360 attendees was intense as local leaders shared best academic practices as well as strategies for managing everything from meal distribution to digital access to family trauma. Given the uneven quality of home instruction offered by NJ’s 555 traditional districts — in general, wealthy districts’ programming is far superior to …

NJ School Districts Best Not Mess with Special Ed Parents

When news leaked that 30 New Jersey districts were demanding that parents sign waivers before their kids could get access to special education services during pandemic school closures, the proverbial shit hit the fan. And rightly so. Special education parents know that certain services listed in Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) can’t be delivered remotely and certain therapies can’t be replicated in the home environment. Here’s what we do know: IEP’s are legal contracts and, while …

Remote Education Shines a Light on the Inequities Special Needs Students Already Face in Schools

Ten-year-old Gavin Williams is a lively and affectionate youngster who loves to visit museums, experiment with computer-coding and plunge into ocean waves with his boogie-board.  Gavin is also a fifth-grade student with disabilities who, his mother Sarah told me, has been effectively abandoned by his New Jersey district during COVID-19 school closures. While the quality of remote instruction offered by schools throughout the country varies from desultory to ambitious—an ongoing survey by the Center for Reinventing …

Education Law Center Nails Problems with the DOE’s Emergency Changes For Special Education Students.

Tomorrow morning the New Jersey State Board of Education will hold its first-ever Skype public meeting due to COVID-19. The first item on the Board’s agenda will be a proposal by Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet that allows schools, during this State of Emergency, to provide services to students with disabilities on virtual platforms. Education Law Center will be there to quibble. And everyone’s right. Quick backstory: When districts abruptly closed, some shut down all remote …

NJ’s Head of Special Education on Home Instruction for Students with Disabilities: “I’m Not Trying To Sugarcoat This in Any Way.”

If you’re a parent of a child with disabilities, you might have panicked when you read this yesterday: As part of [U.S.] Congress’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has proposed to include a provision in the pending stimulus bill that would give the Secretary of Education authority to approve state waiver requests for any statutory and/or regulatory requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for 1 year and extensions …

Asbury Park High School Student Brings Loaded Gun to School; Community and Staff Kept in the Dark.

I have a scoop that I wish I didn’t have, courtesy of three anonymous sources, all staff members at Asbury Park Public Schools. An Asbury Park High School student brought a loaded gun to school. One source said this happened for three consecutive days; another said it was one day. This student sat through classes with the loaded gun until another student told Principal Kathy Baumgardner (photo above).  Asbury Park High School has metal detectors …

Asbury Park Spends $42K per Student and Still Can’t Get the Job Done: Highlights from the Recent State Audit.

Once again it’s time to take a look at Asbury Park Public School District, which spends more per pupil ($42,382 total a year) than almost any other district and is the former post of Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet. This past November the New Jersey State Legislature’s Office of the State Auditor completed an analysis of the district’s functioning that spans from July 2016 (when Repollet was still superintendent) to December 2018. The auditor, Stephen M. …

Four Corrections to an Anti-Choice Op-Ed By the Head of the Newark NAACP.

Yesterday the Star-Ledger ran an op-ed by Deborah Smith Gregory, the president of Newark NAACP and chairperson of Alliance for Newark Public Schools, entitled, “Let’s pause the charter school experiment in Newark.”  As a public service, here are four corrections to this error-ridden attack on the public schools most popular with Black parents in Newark and across the country. Does it seem strange that the venerable and virtuous NAACP would fight against the interests of …