BOE Turmoil Continues

boe new buildingEXCLUSIVE: [The following letter exclusively obtained by TLS was sent yesterday to over 70 Mosdos in Lakewood. The letter is being published with permission] BS”D, Rosh Chodesh Av 5771, August 1, ‘11. Dear Colleague – As you may or may not know, this past Tuesday night, a few heads of mosdos met privately, and based on what now seem to be trumped-up charges, decided that Chesky Seitler and Yoni Silver should be compelled to resign from the Lakewood Board of Education. They proceeded to meet with the Roshei Yeshiva, and presented this demand in the name of Lakewood’s mosdos, (see below for more on this).

The majority of mosdos I asked, were not invited, nor knew anything about this meeting, agenda, demands, etc. At least 2 people who were quoted as agreeing with this decision, Rabbi Yosef Posen and Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Kanarek, vehemently deny it, (in the case of Rabbi Kanarek, I personally verified it, and in the case of Rabbi Posen I asked R Aharon Stefansky; both confirmed that these persons are NOT in agreement; Rabbi Posen said to R’ Aharon Stefansky that he was not even consulted).

Chesky Seitler correctly believes that since he participated in a meeting attended by a majority of mosdos, and was endorsed to run for the LBOE, in a wide-open Igud meeting, after every single mosad was duly notified well in advance, it should take a similar meeting to ask him to resign, not a handful of individuals acting secretly (and deceptively, claiming others agree with them, when they don’t).

From what I heard so far, the charges against Seitler and Silver are that they committed 2 avlas:
(1) They tried to fire Gus the Bus, the District’s excellent transportation coordinator, and
(2) Are trying to get rid of Lydia Silva, the current Superintendent.

I promptly emailed Chesky Seitler for a response to these accusations. Below are the email responses I got back:

(1) “Just to set the record straight I would like to give you the timeline and actual events as they occurred. These facts can be verified through the Board minutes, Ms Carcari, or Gus himself.

In January 2011 Gus was hired as our Transportation consultant for 12 months. Nobody was aware that his contract needs to be renewed on June 30th. In fact, his name was not even on the June 30 the agenda!!

On July 1st we all got a call from Ms. Carrcari saying that Gus needed to be renewed but the Superintendent had forgotten to put him on the agenda. As such a “phone vote” was conducted and of course he was unanimously approved.

On July 20th there was another meeting. For some reason Gus was stuck in on the last page of the agenda and nobody saw it. When the agenda was voted down, he was inadvertently voted down as well. Nobody was thinking about it since he had already been approved via phone on July 1st.

After the meeting it became clear that there was a problem. It could have been rectified with another phone vote, however Michael chose not to allow it. I began getting calls from the Mosdos about it even before I knew what happened. I sent a text to Gus telling him that we will fix the situation asap and he shouldn’t do anything rash. Yoni called him the next morning to explain the mistake and he was very happy and understanding. He was reinstated at the next meeting 3 days later.

I am shocked and amazed that anyone would dare say that I am against Gus. In fact, in numerous situations over the last 3 months when some members wanted to go after him, I was there defending him. Just as this story is a blatant lie so are the others. Please disseminate this email to all Mosdos.

(2) I would like to clarify my position and the recent “hullabaloo” over the Superintendent search committee.

Over the last year or so, the Board members have complained bitterly about the lack of communication between the Superintendent and the Board members. Emails are ignored, motions directing action by the Superintendent are never followed-through, and overall the atmosphere is one that makes the Board members feel like they are just a tolerated nuisance.

The “straw that broke the camel’s back” came in June. The Board had voted 3 times to require each student who registers in the Public School to present 4 pieces of proof of residency instead of 1 or 2. However, when registration was actually done (over Shavuos) the forms clearly stated that only 2 pieces are necessary. In addition, many Public School community leaders felt the Superintendent was not doing a good job in the Public Schools, and wanted her replaced. As such, instead of taking definitive action, we voted to begin a search of our options. I spoke withnumerous non-public school administrators to get their reaction. It varied from “it makes no difference to us” to “go right ahead”. In this vein, I found it surprising that the other Board members were opposed to the move. I am now hearing that ALLEGEDLY these members were working under the false impression that there would be unintended repercussions should this actually go through. I was NOT made aware of this and would have reconsidered my position had it been determined to be true. In any case, the debacle played itself out how it did and here we are after the fact. I believe there are some serious issues that both the public and nonpublic community leaders need to discuss about how our District is run and that a meaningful discussion should commence as soon as possible to find the best way forward. I would be happy to help in any way I can.”

Fortunately, the Roshei HaYeshiva, as expected, acted with prudence, and have decided to look into these specific charges, any other charges, and to examine what’s really behind this entire matter, before deciding whether and how to get involved. I encourage you to contact our Roshei Yeshiva, and let them know your true feelings. Speak for yourselves, they WILL listen.

On the face of it there seems to be several issues here, that we as mechanchim need to meet and discuss.

1. Have we effectively surrendered our collective voice to a few yechidim, pretending to speak for us? If so, When? Where did this happen? Should we go along with this?

2. Is there any link between the fact that some of those in the forefront of this move are also the direct beneficiaries of the $4 Million in IDEA funds for ‘self-contained’ classes, and/or exorbitant ‘rents’ paid for special services, to the exclusion of other mosdos? Is there any truth to the report that leverage is being applied on them to get rid Seitler and Silver, or else they lose their self-contained classes’ IDEA funding?

3. I previously wrote in this space (repeatedly), that the entire IDEA use of funds for self-contained classes was never sanctioned by the mosdos, was done without the required consultations, and that these funds were previously (for many years) earmarked for OT/PT. Who decided that 300 children (our students) needing OT/PT should be dumped, literally, and that those funds should be diverted to a select few mosdos for ‘self-contained’ classes? Make no mistake – I am NOT against self-contained classes. I am simply asking who, when, where, decided on their own “pleitzes” how to be דוחה נפש מפני נפש? . Were the Roshei HaYeshiva consulted about that question? Why NOT?

4. Do we as mechanchim, and roshei mosdos, allow these self-appointed, self-anointed leaders to drag us into a confrontation with the entire kehilla taxpayers, by allowing them to paint us as advocating against fiscal responsibility on the LBOE, and against the taxpayers’ interests? I raised this very objection when we met last March regarding LBOE candidate endorsements, and warned that mosdos’ endorsing a particular candidate (Abraham Ostreicher) sends a message of insensitivity to the plight of our taxpaying parents, neighbors, and friends. Fortunately, the majority agreed with me then. It seems that since then, the mosdos, misled by a few individuals, have gone back to the same agenda that proved so catastrophic, and which has previously undermined and discredited the Vaad. Do we really want to follow in their footsteps? If not, we need to let our newly elected representatives, R Zecharia Greenspan and R Yisrael Friedman, our collective position so that they are not misguided by a minority pretending to represent the majority.

5. Do we encourage these newly-elected representatives to act decisively against the interests of the public school parents, and continue the tenure of the present Superintendent, while dismissing educators these parents favor (such as Ms. D. Mercora)? Why build opposition to our entire community for no reason whatsoever, on a matter that is anyway also against our own interests? Is that דעת תורה ?


Meir Hertz

P.S., unlike my esteemed colleagues, this note is being circulated to ALL mosdos, in real time, so everyone has an equal chance to review and respond if they so choose.

NOTHING is being done here in stealth or under cover. Just as I am entitled to present my opinion, they are certainly entitled present theirs. I trust the intelligence of our tzibbur to be the ultimate judge. All I ask is for open, honest presentation and debate of the issues.

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  1. Chezky Zeitler is standing up to these special interests, and therefore these special interests are waging a war against Chezky.

    Chezky has only one interest: To help the struggling taxpayer, while at the same time making sure the children get the adequate education they need and deserve. These special interests on the other hand, are just that: special interests.

    These special interests hijacked the “Igud Hamosdos” in the past election, and fooled everyone into voting for new BOE members who are fighting Zeitler and Silver, and pushing for higher taxes (and more money for their special interests mosdos).

    TLS, will you finally post this???? I’ve tried warning everyone during the election, but for some strange reason, my posts weren’t allowed to go through. I did NOT write names in this post, so hopefully you will allow this post to go through.

  2. Seitler and Silver are not the problem with the BOE. I find that both of these BOE members take their positions seriously, are prepared for meetings, and do some of the best work for the Lakewood School District.

    Mr. Silver, especially has a good way of analyzing information, asking pertinent questions, and makes prudent decisions.

    They are a asset to all of the residents of Lakewood Township.

  3. As a school Admin. I can tell you that the only problem is with the people WOrking for the BOE who are taking these fat salaries and not doing much, the board members are just trying their best.

  4. Seitler has brought together the yeshiva community, most of the mosdos, the seniors, and public school parents. He tries to do the right thing, even if some feathers are ruffled. If anyone deserves to serve on the Board it’s Seitler, Silver and Carl Fink. All the other board members should follow their example, so the turmoil stops, and the board can focus on business at hand. And the superintendent’s departure is obviously long overdue, to anyone who examines her dismal record.

  5. to TLS,

    I understand that you edited my post. However, my question to you is: How will people realize what is happening in this town if you don’t let the truth come out?

    Chezky Zeitler is trying his hardest to fight the corruption in this town, to fight the special interests in this town.

    The special inetersts are constantly making up lies about Chezky and Yoni, because they are scared that the money they get will stop if Chezky has his way.

    This will continue for as long as people do not realize this.

    So please think of a way to get the truth to the public so that they can realize how much corruption is going on, and so that we don’t make the same mistake that we made in this past election for the BOE.

    We must support Chezky and Yoni, fighting for the struggling taxpayer .

    Thank you.

  6. “…and based on what now seem to be trumped-up charges, decided that Chesky Seitler and Yoni Silver should be compelled to resign from the Lakewood Board of Education.”

    Couldn’t agree more!!!

  7. WE (the people) voted for Seitler, WE decided if he should be removed. Not some heads of mosdos. Give us the facts, let us vote in the polls.
    I think Seitler is doing an amazing job!

  8. I for one say we owe both of these to members a BIG thank you. they have done a great job on making sure taxes have not gone up. Maybe all the people who feel they can do better run for the next seat. Its a lot of work, and zero reward position.

  9. I think one thing needs clarification: who is behind the Igud Hamosdos? Is it the Vaad? Is it the roshei yeshiva? Or is it the mosdos acting alone?

  10. I know mr silver personally he is a very honest and hard working person and he is looking out for the interest of us hard working people.
    I never told any kehilah to represent me, when it comes to my taxes, the kehilahs and mosdos interest are not necessarily aligned with the tax payers interest, for instance all the special ed schools are getting millions of dollars from the board of ed, and who do u think foots the bill?

  11. Who in their right mind thinks they can overturn a freely held election by going behind everyone’s back?

    Did they really dream they can get away with that in these United States??

  12. I agree with #10.

    Everyone should remember how we all are responsible for our actions, and not to look for answers and pretend we are doing it for righteous reasons.

  13. looks like these special individuals have another lot they want to take from the BOE and they are scared from these two board members.

  14. What I can’t undersatnd about the seniors is why they didnt vote en masse for shmuckler. If they had, we’d be all saving allot more money on our taxes. Instead we got other candidates who last week voted to spend 1 million dollars on expenditures instead of using the money to reduce the property tax rate

  15. Future township and bored (sp) of education elections should be done the way elections are done in ‘that’ country. Upon entry into the election booth there are two choices for each candidate given:

    1] Yes, I want comrade ‘X’ as Preimer
    2] No, I wont no one but comrade ‘X’

    The ‘fill in’ option permits a citizen to write reasons WHY comrade ‘x’ is the ONLY choice.

  16. I know this won’t get posted…anything said about Mr. Seitler that isn’t in an approving light, is never posted. This shows that TLS does not present both sides at all times.

    (Moderated-personal attacks are never posted. Please see comment rules. Thank you.)

    One has to wonder why he is really there.

  17. Chesky and Yoni, please dong get disillusioned. The kehila needs you, you guys are doing a great job and we all appreciate it!!!


  18. I do not believe this has ever happened before. We have had contenious elections but in my 32 years in Lakewood I don’t remember anyone being asked to resign. Charlie Cunnliffe was the victim of a recall campaign that went nowhere but otherwise – never! Why don’t these people do a recall instead of hiding? Are they scared of the results? If so, face the truth.

  19. look the bottom line is that you have children (public and private) who deserve an education. say what you want but their needs must be the driving force of our actions. have any boe members met with any current teacher to investigate needs? before we make any moves shouldnt we be aware of what is required?

  20. look the bottom line is that you have children (public and private) who deserve an education. say what you want but their needs must be the driving force of our actions. have any boe members met with any current teacher to investigate needs? before we make any moves shouldnt we be aware of what is required?

  21. Thank You for bringing this to light once again.You and Chesky and Yoni are the only one standing up to some of these “yechidim”.Next time by the elections please be wise when you endorse your candidates.

  22. I for 1 want to personally thank chezky and yoni for holding down my tax rate. As it is I struggle to pay it and every bit they do to help me and all other lakewood taxpayers is greatly appreciated

  23. Are any  of these ‘heads of mosdos really Rabbis? I think the title Rabbi should be reserved for only those who get smicha. Any other  (even those teaching 12th grade) should be called Reb ….. Just because one opens a mosod doesnt make you a Rabbi.

  24. TLS Editor:

    Seeing that you only allow pro Seitler comments – most of which aren’t really saying anything – confirms my suspicion that there is more to the story…

  25. Please clarify the ‘groise avlahs’ that they are accused of

    From what I heard so far, the charges against Seitler and Silver are that they committed 2 avlas:
    (1) They tried to fire Gus the Bus, the District’s excellent transportation coordinator, and
    (2) Are trying to get rid of Lydia Silva, the current Superintendent.”

    Is this something that a board memeber is not allowed to do? Does it warrant a forced resignation. Something smells real bad…. As far as I know Cheasky has done mor for the average hasmon am taxpayer than many past boards combined. Chesky and Yoni keep up for the littell taxpayer….! Thank yo for all that you do!

  26. from a parent. The school board should be made up of parents from the public schools. Mr. Tift is the only one who fits the picture. How can we have a board that is so pro private schools . Lakewood is a deverse town which just might require two boards.
    Anything is better then we currently have. Oh, for the record we support Mr. Seitler and Mr. Silver on the public schccol board. We wish everyone had an open mind like they show week after week.

  27. Please lets remember why these men and women are on the LBOE …for the children in the Lakewood Public School system. This all to often has been forgotten lately. Why won t they come together for the teachers and give them a proper contract instead of worrying who likes who?

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