Educators View Election As Referendum On Improving Special Education

Igud meeting[The following letter, sent to the Igud today by Rabbi Meir Hertz, was obtained by TLS and is being published with permission] Dear Colleagues, It is heartening to see that, once again, the unity displayed by the Kehilla mechanchim brought us to victory in yesterday’s BOE election. In contrast, the seniors, who evenly split their vote between 2 senior candidates, nullified their voice. Both their candidates lost. Had they been united, their candidate would have won the second of the 3 open seats.

Let’s take a look for a moment at another, related development which happened yesterday. As you probably know, Mrs Ziva Krieger has exposed the sharp reduction in special education and related services over the past few years in Lakewood. She wrote a letter detailing these problems, which some
of the national frum papers refused to publish. Mrs Krieger presented her findings and reviewed her letter at a meeting attended by several roshei mosdos on March 7 at Yeshiva Ketana, where its publication was urged.

Yesterday, her letter was published on TLS together with the District’s unsigned, and IMHO rather feeble, response.

I believe that by highlighting the problems we are all experiencing in our mosdos, Mrs Krieger has done our children a tremendous service. I know that her position is shared by quite a few other therapist and educators, based on their own experience. I wanted to take this opportunity to give her credit and thanks, for her courage in “going public” with a crisis in our kehilla that has been kept under wraps for too long.

I sincerely hope and pray that this will be an inspiration to more professionals and educators to bring this “problem out of the closet”.

Below is my own view on this issue.

The sad fact is that over the past 3 years the number of children in our mosdos receiving PT and OT was drastically reduced by the Lakewood District from 467 to 120, a 74% cut. This was achieved under the pretext of “centralization”, by the introduction of the Nonpublic Therapy Service Center. Not a single parent or educator was consulted, and certainly none approved this wholesale termination of services to our most vulnerable children. Unfortunately, this is but one example out of many.

According to Mrs Adina Weisz, Director of Related Services at the Lakewood District, (letter to the Superintendent, May 24, 2010) all the OT/PT is currently paid for out of the local tax levy, not the federal IDEIA grant. This explains, but certainly does not excuse, the cuts. Mrs Ziva Krieger correctly sees through this, and other, schemes, such as wholesale reduction in legally required child evaluations. Her complaint of sharp reduction in essential therapies is right on target, while the District’s response is completely off-base.

I think that the release of her letter on BOE election day was timed as a call for a change in course.

Rabbi Meir Hertz

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  1. I think his analysis of the seniors’ voting is wrong. With three votes each, there were probably at least some seniors who voted for both Avrin and Hobday. District by district voting totals may shed more light on that.

  2. Please respectfully note that there are more than 50 or 60 ‘Educators ” or roshei Mosdos . Many choose not to be very vocal about their opinions . The opinion of a few more vocal ones does not necessarily show the consensus in these matters

  3. I would venture to say all of the people who voted for Friedman and Greenspan did not do so because of the letter written by Mrs. Kriger.
    If you recall they were mere afterthoughts in the TLS poll conducted earlier in the election campaign.
    They won because the mosdos endorsed them. Period. Why they endorsed them is another matter altogether.

  4. Now we understand what this entire election was all about, and what was behind the mosdos’ endorsement. But why was this not revealed from the beginning?

    Thanks TLS for posting both Mrs. Krieger’s and Rabbi Hertz’s letters. We needed that.

  5. You are correct that people did not vote for them because of Mrs. Kreiger but what does it mean ” Why they endorsed them is another matter altogether”. Are you a parent in a local mosad or are you too a senior with no care in the world for any of the children, private or public school education?

  6. The point is exactly that. There WERE differences of opinion on the endorsements. These differences were vigorously but respectfully debated. It was decided by ALL not to cause a pirud, and to go forward in unity. That was a Kiddush Hashem. Our Menahalim decided to set aside their opinions and not to cause a rift. That was a commendable, active, not passive decision.

    I am proud to have been there, as one of the dissenters who decided to keep the peace – and was proven right!!

  7. Spin it how you want to, all it really is is a sad testament to the fact that most people just don’t vote, and the ones who do, are going because they think it’s a mitzva to vote for the people R Hertz and his oilam say to vote for (moderated)

  8. I actually voted for the winning candidates thinking they would slash spending to the bone to lower taxes as I’m sure many others did. the cadidates positions were not clearly spelled out so they kind of all sounded similiar to me. I guess now I know better. every increase in services comes along with an increase in taxes, and one thing I can assure rabbi hertz is that the kehilla does not want an increase in taxes.

  9. To # 6

    My comment was more of a response to the headline here than the debate about endorsement . I just wanted to respectfully point out that the opinion of a few Educators who choodse to go public ,dies not neccessarily mean that most Roshei Mosdos view the elections as a referendum on anything . as far as the actual debate ,I am sure it was done properly but I believe that a good number of Roshei Mosdos were not there and not even informed about it . So it is hard to say what the true consensus would be if this were debated by every Educator .

  10. Just a little update folks…..special education services are being cut around the state (and the country). The push in education is for students to receive an education in the LRE -least restrictive environment. All parents should advoacte for their children, but not getting the answer that you want soed not mean that the evaluators are incorrect!

  11. True, every child should get the help and therapy he or she needs. However, “forcing” everyone on the town to pay for it – via taxes – is immoral and against Halacha. Every single Rav I spoke to told me this, but many simply do not want to get involved for various reasons.





  13. You said “every increase in services comes along with an increase in taxes”. Not quite. Competition among multi-vendors lowers costs, increases services and improves the quality of the services. Tried and tested. Time for Lakewood to join the rest of the country.

  14. The problem is that they don’t even offer an evaluation to most. My child was denied the evaluation. 3 other professionals duagnosed him with needing services. They don’t give evals bcause they don’t want to give the services so better not know about the problem altogether. Is that legal? I’m not sure?

  15. TLS is not allowing all the anti-taxes comments through.

    Most people in this town, when given the choice, want lower taxes.

    People voted for the Igud’s candidates thinking that the Igud was on thier side. They were misled.

  16. I might add,

    The people who don’t care about higher taxes are either those who don’t own a home, those who are filthy rich, or those who stand to gain financially from higher taxes.

    Everyone else is against higher taxes.

  17. Services need to be provided. If you don’t have a child that needs these special services, thank G-D and move on. According to the thinking of many people, the government should stop funding Ambulance services since they cost taxpayers and many people “feel” they don’t need it. So why should they need to pay for it?

  18. A year ago rabbi hertz wrote a letter calling people to vote for those who now caused these problems. Rabbi Hertz can you better explain.

  19. Meir Hertz is incorrect. The school budget is 70 million dollars. Busing is 21 million and Schi is 12 million. Thats a whopping 48% of the entire budget. I am not sure what he and his educators want to cut or raise but I am sure none of them pay taxes. YOU DO

  20. I would suggest Lakewood vote for a new law where as Clergy would pay taxes as others. You would see how fast things changes. By the way 2 clergy from each school are exept from taxes.
    Plus they charge rent for there students to live

  21. This is the one board that should have been split between public school and private school parents. The clear cut victory by the frum will lead to the complete demise of the public school system.
    I am a frum member who is tired of paying taxes. We need to be able to support our families

  22. It is very clear by Meir Hertz comments the seniors do not belong in Lakewood. We thought this election was about individuals running for the board. Now we read it’s about all the private schools.
    Bottom line, if we could ask the seniors to move we would

  23. The results of the election are dishartening, in that the Lakewood School District is in desperate need of experienced and seasoned members of the community that are committed to raising the level of education, managing the budget, and working together to bring about concensus on the goals and objectives of the District.

    We will now have two very fine gentlemen join the BOE from the Orthodox community, with goals already mandated to them. I wonder how well suited these gentlemen are to assist in the decision making process. I believe that they are students at BMG. Have they run a business, worked in the private or public sector, made a payrole? Are they taxpayers, or do they own a home?

    How then can they be expected to help manage a multi million dollar enterprise dealing with all of the issues that they have little or no knowledge of. The study of the Torah is a sacred and prestegious disipline, however, I believe that without the other experiences and education that comes from living life, working, asimilating with others, there education and experience is insufecient to qualify them for service on the BOE.

    I also take exception to the commentary that the seniors split their vote between the two senior candidates. That is shere folly. The detail count by district will back this up.

    Lakewood School District is on very shakey grounds. This would have been an opportunity to deal with the issues fairly, openly, and with much integrety. All of the stakeholders in Lakewood will likely lose as a result of this election.

  24. Please stop writing things thst are untrue . There is no such thing that 2 clergy from each school do not pay taxes . This only applies to churches or synagogues and only in cases where the home is owned by the church to house its leader . I am willing to bet that the vast majority of the Educators do not fall into that category . I personally know quite a few schools and quite a few deans and administrators and they all pay taxes on their residences . the School buidings themselves are tax exempt ,the same as a public school is ,but nobody lives in those buildings .

  25. To # 27.

    A little sour grapes there, senior friend. Your wrath in reaction to the seniors losing the election is misdirected. Rabbi Hertz merely reported the facts as they are, without editorializing. Don’t shoot the messenger. I read and re-read his message. It was simply emphasizing the importance of unity. Aren’t you going a little overboard reading it as an invitation for the seniors to leave Lakewood??

  26. The taxpayers, their advocates, and the Kehilla educators are all on the same page. There is enormous waste and mismanagement in the Lakewood School District. Last year’s candidates were recommended by the Igud, elected, and followed through with a good start attacking this waste. They were fought every inch of the way by the “administration”. This year’s candidates will bsd carry that plan forward. Those that pit taxpayers against educators want to divide and weaken our community of public and private school parents, seniors and all other taxpayers – for their own narrow interests. As one who voted for the unity slate, I am not buying these divisive tactics. We can discuss and debate where the cuts should fall (e.g., transportation or special ed or teacher salary increases and benefits, etc). But as long as we do do it in a cooperative spirit, with everyone willing to bite the bullet (yes, even SCHI and busing – everyone) we will satisfy both the parents and the taxpayers. It is doable.

    And by the way, I am a school administrator WHO PAYS FULL TAXES ON HIS HOME.

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