Frum Toms River Family in Battle to Provide Their Special Needs Child with a Proper Education

Submitted: It should be a given:

…that one can choose where they’d like to live in this free country.

that their child will receive a proper education no matter their zip code.

that a child’s specific educational needs will be met in a manner that keeps the child’s best interests in mind.

Sadly, that is not always the case.

When we lived in Lakewood, we were fortunate enough to have a school that met the unique, specific needs of our child with special needs in an environment that suited her educational, social, and emotional needs.

And then, we moved to Toms River. And the Board of Education tried to place our child. But they refused to consider the specific needs of our child, and insisted on placing her in a school in the Toms River district that ran a program for children with special needs.

The only problem?

The program catered to children with very different conditions and limitations, and our child’s educational and social needs could not be met there at all. Even worse was the fact that the kosher dietary needs couldn’t be accommodated either; with common meal prep areas and many food incentives, there was absolutely no way to ensure that our child would not eat non-kosher food, chas v’shalom.

We’ve been in court battling for the proper placement for our child for two long years now. The Toms River school district has tried to allay our concerns with insincere platitudes and empty promises – and we still don’t have a final decision. Our legal bills are mounting, and the burden has become a heavy one to bear.

We’re not just fighting for our child. We’re fighting for every single child in the greater Lakewood area who is denied services by a school district that won’t take their specific educational needs into consideration when considering a school placement. We’re fighting to give every child the best possible chance of a bright future, no matter their limitations.

We’re asking you to help us fund our fight so that we can ensure that every child gets the educational placement they need – and are legally entitled to.

Donate here to help us guarantee our child’s future!

*This campaign has been verified and endorsed by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen

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  1. Maybe you should have investigated what the school district could have offered you before decided to move. You did not do your own due diligence. Seems like you assumed that they would just cater to you. That’s your problem.

    • Minerva, you also did not do your due diligence. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a federal law that REQUIRES a free and *appropriate* public education to be made available to eligible children with disabilities. If the district cannot provide that in-house, they are required to fund the necessary services elsewhere. It happens all over the country. I have worked in numerous non-public special education schools throughout the state of NJ which are filled with students who could not have their needs met in their home districts. For example, The Shore Center for Students with Autism, among many others. The Shore Center services children from at least 15 different school districts all across the state, and charges a hefty sum to the home district to cover the costs of the very specialized educational environment they provide.
      Every child with disabilities is legally entitled to the same level of special treatment. So yes, the family expected that the district would cater to their child. Because that is the law.

  2. What about SCHI?! One of the best special needs schools in the state. Then after SCHI, your child can go to The Special Children’s Center. Please look into All that Lakewood has offer.

  3. As a mom of two children w special needs (not in Lakewood) I just want to commend you for your being your child’s best advocate and fighting for his rights. Kol hakavod! I also want to bentch you with much Yiddish nachas from him and your entire mishpacha. You should have clarity and siyata dishmaya. To Minerva, my bracha to you is that you never come to a place that you can understand this problem personally.

  4. As a parent of a special needs child who is in SCHI (and I thank Hashem for providing us with such a wonderfrul school) who has no koach to fight, my suggestion is that you should move back to Lakewood. Hatzlacha.

    • Are you willing to pay the extra hundreds of thousands of dollars that a comparable home will cost in Lakewood? There are many different possible reasons why they can’t move back to Lakewood. You make it sound like it’s a simple matter. They obviously moved to Toms River for reasons that you may not know of.

      • My 2 grandchildren moved from Toms River to Lakewood 2 yrs ago. To this day, Toms River comes to Lakewood to pick them up and bring them to school. I would keep pressing them as my grandchildren live right up the road from SCHI on Oak St.

  5. This is not meant to be disrespectful. I am a retired spec ed teacher. Your child is your priority, as she should be. Since Lakewood provided the appropriate education and nutritional needs, why not move back to Lakewood.

  6. It may amaze many of us but when a Non-Frum or Non-Jew is looking to buy a house they look what public schools their children will attend & whether they provide the education the parents want.
    I feel bad about this situation but am wondering why you would move to a place where you can’t get the proper education for your child?
    Imagine moving to a town with 5 Jews then complaining there’s no Minyan or Day school. Wouldn’t you investigate a town for its level of Yiddishkeit before moving there? Why is this any different?

    • There may be a thousand possible reasons why they had to move there. And why should they assume that the school district wouldn’t follow the law as spelled out in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?

  7. I thought of an interesting Segula that maybe maybe will help. This Segula can help for all kinds of issues not necessarily this specific article-it is a general Segula that can possibly help for many issues.
    We all know that Shabbos has unusual special powers-completely unnatural super powers.
    The Halachos of Eiruvin is extremely difficult. If you are walking somewhere and all of a sudden you see a sign that the Eiruv starts here or ends here. The question is which Rav put up the Eiruv or supervised it. If you trust that Rav and you are willing to lend him a lot of money because you really trust him, then by all means you can feel comfortable to carry in that Eiruv.
    I am hope I am right. I am thinking that if a person is super careful to make sure that the Eiruv is truly good and correct and a person will only use an Eiruv that he already did some research about that Eiruv, then in the merit of the Mitzva that we are not allowed to carry on Shabbos unless we are in an Eiruv, this Mitzva has super mind boggling powers-Shabbos is an unusual merit it has special strengths, it will help us with Hashem’s help with many different issues that each family is going through.

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