The board meeting opened with the announcementby the board's attorney of the FBI subpoena. It concluded with four board members – Zecharia Greenspan, Jonathan Silver, Yizeriel Friedman and vice president Yechezkel Seitler – attempting to fire the board’s attorney, using his allegedly high legal fees as the justification.
FBI Subpoenas Lakewood School Board Over Special Ed Contracts
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The APP reports that the FBI has issued a subpoena to the Lakewood, New Jersey Board of Education for all contracts, bills and invoices, resolutions, board minutes and agendas dating back to 2008, the board’s attorney, Steve Edelstein, said during last night’s board meeting. The subpoena also contained a specific demand for all contracts, bills and invoices from with or from Catapult Learning, Catapult services and Ocean Health Initiatives and any other documents involving them.
Catapult Learning reportedly has a multimillion-dollar contract with the school board to provide special-education services for both public and private schools in the district.
Lakewood is a center of haredi Judaism and boasts the largest yeshiva outside Israel, Beth Medrash Govoha. The haredi community is very politically active and has grwon to control or heavily influence the town's politics.
Beth Medrash Govoha recently won a $10.6 million dollar grant from a state program to bolster high education. The Beth Medrash Govoha grant is larger than some colleges received. Beth Medrash Govoha only became eligible for the program after the state legislature amended the law governing the grant to allow religious institutions to receive funding. Governor Chris Christe backed the change.
Activists and some politicians complained that the grant to Beth Medrash Govoha would seem to violate the state's ban of funding religions.
In response, Beth Medrash Govoha made the questionable claim that it does not discriminate by religious affiliation or ethnicity in admissions, claiming that anyone of any color or religion can enroll – as long as they pass a test that shows a high level of competency in Talmud, halakha (Jewish law) and related fields, including proficiency in the Biblical hebrew and the Talmud's Judeo-Aramaic languages
Last night's school board meeting opened with the announcement by Edelstein of the FBI subpoena. It concluded with four board members – Zecharia Greenspan, Jonathan Silver, Yizeriel Friedman and vice president Yechezkel Seitler – attempting to remove Edelstein from his position as the board’s attorney, using his allegedly high legal fees as the justification.
The motion was ruled out of order and failed.
Seitler resigned as vice president, but will remain on the board.
“This district was a mess when we came in here. There were about 28 open cases, and they’ve all been settled,” Edelstein said.
The board’s president set up a committee to investigate hiring a new attorney.
The board is currently suing its former attorney, Michael Inzelbuch, due to alleged conflicts of interest. After leaving his post with school board, Inzelbuch now represents students suing the school district.