NJ Enabling Irresponsible Budget from Wholly Unreliable Lakewood School District and its Overpriced Attorney

Lakewood schools reopen, banking on $36 million loan from NJ

LAKEWOOD – A shutdown that forced about 1,000 special education students to stay home Monday has ended and the Lakewood Public School District is open for business on the promise of a $36 million loan from the state.

The district was shuttered for a single day after the school board reversed course, unanimously voting to void a budget it had passed a week earlier to avert a shutdown. Without a budget, no money could be spent, according to school board attorney Michael Inzelbuch.

Inzelbuch blamed the shutdown on the state, but critics of the district are pushing back calling the closure a stunt.

Gov. Phil Murphy had slated an additional $30 million to go to Lakewood, but when the Legislature drafted its budget it axed the funding. District leadership refused to sign off on the $171 million budget without knowing where that $30 million would come from, saying it was necessary to provide a thorough education and balance the books.

But even without the $30 million, the district receives other revenue that it could have used to keep doors open Monday, according to David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center. Among those other sources are $102 million in local tax levy and tens of millions in other state aid, according to the district’s budget.

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Lakewood, NJ – Interesting How the Board Voted to Continue Busing Yeshiva Kids to the Yeshivas – Post Shut Down


LAKEWOOD — The school district shut down most operations Monday after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a budget without $30 million school officials were counting on — saying they couldn’t operate the district until a solution is found.

In an emergency meeting Monday, the district authorized funding for “only those programs mandated by the New Jersey Department of Education and required for health and safety until such time a budget is approved.”

Note: This story has been updated following the emergency board meeting. An earlier version discussed the situation as it stood before the board meeting, when all services were canceled.

The board also voted to continue its support of the Lakewood School Transportation Authority and to ensure that courtesy busing continue for public and non-public students. The LSTA had ceased to exist at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday with the lack of a budget. Those services weren’t provided on Monday, after the district warned parents depending on them to make other plans.

The board also approved continued funding for services for non-public students and those attending “schools for the disabled,” required by the superintendent and state monitor. That also includes security and access to trips, playground equipment, home instruction.

The board passed several resolutions including one that puts all non-essential staff on furlough until further notice.

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Lakewood, NJ – the financial Pillaging of a Bucolic Little Town’s School District Using the Ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva Handbook


Lakewood schools to close? Parents told to make ‘alternate plans’

Above: What can be done to improve relations between Orthodox and non-Orthodox communities?

LAKEWOOD — The township’s public schools may close Monday as a result of the financial pressures facing the district, where officials say money will run out before the end of the next school year.

Administrators said on the district website that parents should make “alternate plans” for their children. School leaders called it a “precautionary measure” due to the “unknown fiscal situation.” 

Last week, the Lakewood school board approved a 2019-20 budget that the district doesn’t have the money to fund. Its lawyer and several administrators also went to court Wednesday to plea for help, saying the district cannot afford to keep schools open beyond March.

Special education and transportation account for about 40 percent of the public schools’ expenses. The district enrolls about 6,000 students, but also is responsible for costs of transportation and certain services for Lakewood’s more than 30,000 private school children.

Administrators have sought Trenton’s help in closing the school district’s growing budget holes, using combinations of grants and loans.

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Lakewood, NJ Pool Segregation Rules Adjudicated Unlawful by 3rd Cir. Judge

Correction: The initial title of this article read “2nd Cir.” It should have read 3rd Cir. Thanks to the person who caught the mistake.  Corrected 24.4.19

Judges rule sex-segregated pool schedule unlawful at condo in Lakewood, NJ

While they stopped short of ruling that any gender-segregated pool is unlawful, one of them expressed “vehement disapproval of segregation” over the “separate, but equal” policies.

Swimming pool. Credit: Max Pixel.

Swimming pool. Credit: Max Pixel.

 The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found on Monday that a condominium’s sex-segregated pool time policy in the heavily dominated New Jersey neighborhood of Lakewood discriminated against women.

The court ruled for a group of owners who sued after each were fined $50 by their condominium association for violating the rules of A Country Place Condominium Association about the pool that includes separate swimming times for men and women in accordance with strict modesty standards upheld by Orthodox Jews, who consist of two-thirds of the association’s residents during of the 2016 lawsuit.

The judges said the policy violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the federal Fair Housing Act, which “makes it an unlawful housing practice to “discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities therewith, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin.

The judges said “inequitable features” in the swimming schedule was unlawful in that on weeknights, women were allotted 3.5 hours of pool time after 5 p.m., while the men had 16.5 hours. Only 25 hours were allocated for people of all sexes.

Judge Thomas Ambro ruled that “women with regular-hour jobs thus have little access to the pool during the work week, and the schedule appears to reflect particular assumptions about the roles of men and women.”

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Lakewood, New Jersey – Gate Unlocked for Sabbath Observant Jews, Settlement

Lakewood community unlocks gate for Orthodox Jews after Sabbath complaint

LAKEWOOD – An Orthodox Jewish man has struck a deal with his homeowners’ association to unlock a pedestrian gate key to Jewish observances at the 55-and-over community in Lakewood, ending a dispute that served as another cultural flash point in the fast-growing township.

Nathan Reiss filed a state discrimination complaint in December 2017 claiming The Enclave’s pedestrian gate prevented him from walking to a synagogue because the gate required the use of an electronic key card. During the Sabbath, those observing the Orthodox Jewish faith are forbidden from driving or using electricity.

More:Lakewood seniors ‘get out of Dodge’ as Orthodox Jewish home buyers move in

Tuesday, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office announced a deal between Reiss and The Enclave, in which the gate would be unlocked during Sabbath hours and on Jewish holidays.

“This settlement should serve as a reminder to housing associations, condo associations and co-ops across New Jersey that being sensitive to the religious beliefs and observances of their residents is not only the right thing to do, it is the law,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.

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Murphy’s Law in New Jersey – Lakewood Getting Unexplained $15M While 200 Other Districts Get Funding Slashed…

N.J. wants to send extra $15M to Lakewood for private schoolers. Why didn’t it tell anyone?

When Gov. Phil Murphy proposed his 2020 budget last week it revealed Lakewood School District would get a massive 63 percent hike in state funding, by far the largest of any district in the state.

But what state officials didn’t make clear is that the additional $14.9 million proposed for Lakewood is special treatment for the controversial district that isn’t called for in the state’s school funding formula.

An NJ Advance Media analysis of state data found Murphy’s administration wants to give Lakewood more money than the district technically qualifies for, while slashing funding to nearly 200 other districts. The state pumped extra money into Lakewood’s preliminary funding for special education and transportation without increasing that aid for most other districts. And it proposed giving millions in new taxpayer money to a district long criticized for enormous public costs tied to private school students, primarily in Jewish yeshivas.

As much as the extra money might be necessary in cash-starved Lakewood, which has relied on state loans to buoy its local school budget, the way Murphy’s administration quietly added it to the state’s budget raised concerns.

“The (state) really needs to explain publicly what’s going on here,” said David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, a nonprofit that closely monitors school funding. “I would hope that the Legislature examines this in detail and gets answers.”

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The Financial Pillaging of School Districts By the Incestuous Relationship Between Private Schools and Public Funds

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Rise Up Ocean County

Rise Up Ocean County

Yesterday at 8:09 AM

In what has become an annual rite of passage, Lakewood Township School District is once again on bended knee doing their own perverted version of Oliver Twist and asking the state of New Jersey “please sir, may I have some more?”.

Last week the state announced final public school funding levels for all districts and while surrounding communities are losing tens of millions of dollars, Lakewood will receive an additional $15,000,000 for the 2019-2020 school year. But that’s not enough to fund the projected 2019-2020 budget shortfall of $40,000,000 so rather than look at cutting from courtesy busing, reducing the outrageous salary of school board attorney Michael Inzelbuch ($600,000) and finding less costly ways to educate special needs children (think SCHI), the district is asking the state for yet another loan.

When faced with similar circumstances back in 2014-2015 the school district borrowed $4,500,000 from the state. In 2015-2016 that number grew to $6,400,000, in 2016-2017 even higher to $8,500,000 and in 2017-2018 to a whopping $28,000,000. Initially the $28,000,000 was a grant request but the state rejected that because the district refused to provide documentation to support the request. Tonight the board of education meets to consider requesting yet another loan, this time ONLY $16,000,000.

Anyone want to bet a nickel that at some point Senator Bob Singer will request that the state forgive these loans and that request will be granted? If so, please PM us.

At present, Lakewood School District owes the State of New Jersey $46,000,000 and if this new loan is granted that number will be $63,500,000, a new record for school district indebtedness to the state. The district doesn’t actually repay these loans either. Instead of having to write a check, the annual loan repayment is withheld from state aid, $5,800,000/year for the next 12 years. So a district that cries that it does not receive enough state aid borrows money to plug budget gaps and repays that money through…state aid. Follow that?

All of this transpires under the watchful eye of state monitor David Shafter. Shafter, who bills himself as a budget coordinator and financial analyst with expertise in school management on LinkedIn, sits on the finance committee of the Board of Education and is partly responsible for this debacle. The scheme can only move forward with his approval which he has given.

Also on the finance committee is board member Isaac Zlatkin. Zlatkin, you may recall, is a co-defendant in a lawsuit filed against the district by Tobree Mostel who, as an employee of the school district, was responsible for funding for special education children. In her 34 page federal lawsuit, Mostel alleges that she was discriminated against because she tried to expose corruption and is not an orthodox Jew.

The trouble began when Lakewood based On Track Resources LLC was given a contract by the district to oversee special needs placements. Mostel alleges that the On Track gave multiple student evaluations in a short time frame so the company could charge more money, hired evaluators who work for companies that gain financially from special education placements, copying and pasting student service plans instead of individualizing them and coercing parents to waive evaluations of children.

To no one’s surprise, the previous board attorney, Marc Ztoner, labeled Mostel anti-Semitic for objecting to the corruption.

“It appears that if one is not Orthodox Jewish, like the majority of the (Lakewood Board of Education) board members, and is not committed to diverting public school funds to benefit the local religious schools, that individual does not get to remain as an employee in the Lakewood School District,” the lawsuit reads. “It truly begs the question: What is going on in this district?”

At least board member Moshe Newhouse, who accepted the amnesty program offered by the state for cheating the welfare system only days before closing on a $500,000 house, doesn’t sit on the finance committee, so there’s that.

It’s time to fire the state monitor and for the state of New Jersey to seize control of Lakewood School District. Nothing less will do.

View Shafter’s Linked In here

Read the Mostel lawsuit article

Read the source article for this story here