In a development that came as a shock to thousands of parents with children in Lakewood mosdos, the school year has begun without nurses, textbooks, speech therapy, social services and a wide array of other services that have previously been covered by state and federal grant money.
“I have a whole wing that is closed,” said Rabbi Asher Lederer of Yeshiva Ketana. “This affects hundreds of jobs and thousands of children.”
Rabbi Lederer also said that lack of nursing services presents a very real danger to children. “You don’t just need a nurse for the regular headaches and boo-boos,” he said. “There are kids in cheder on medications and with all sorts of real medical issues. They need a nurse on site.”
According to sources involved in the ongoing crisis, the services presently being withheld are those funded by the federal Title One, known as the No Child Left Behind Act, and New Jersey State statues 192 and 193. Causes for the withholding of funds are said to be complicated, but much of the issue centers on the interpretation of several conditions that institutions must meet in order to be eligible for government assistanace.
At the center of the matter is state monitor Michal Azzara, who was appointed by Trenton as an outside manager of the Lakewood school district several months ago. He has been delegated much of the power in the district that has been traditionally held by the popularly elected board.
An emergency meeting was called by the Board of Education for Tuesday night to discuss the matter openly with all involved parties and hopefully come to a resolution. A letter was sent by the Lakewood Ichud HaMosdos urging parents to attend to show solidarity on the issue.