Last week a New Jersey Appellate Court ruled against Gov. Phil Murphy’s Education Department and in favor of Lakewood math teacher Arthur Lang and Education Law Center founder Paul Tractenberg. The court said the state funding formula is unfair to Lakewood Public Schools because of its unusual demographics: 5,000 in-district students, almost all low-income, and responsible for special education and transportation costs for 35,000 ultra-Orthodox Jewish students. In response, the Lakewood Vaad, a group of eleven men who control much of the city, issued this statement. Below the letter is the text, with appropriate translations.
“The Lakewood Vaad is pleased to offer a huge Yosher Koach [“may you have strength”] to our dear Chaver [friend] Aaron Lang for his recent resounding win in his long-standing lawsuit against the New Jersey State Education Department in the NJ Appeals Court. By winning this case, he has finally established – by law – that Lakewood has been cheated by the state funding formula for years in the amounts of state aid they allocated to the Lakewood Board of Education.
“In brief, Aaron, in collaboration with a distinguished Rutgers law professor, succeeded in establishing that the State drastically underfunded Lakewood by tens of millions of dollars in the funding formula by refusing to count the 50,000 Talmidim/os [Torah scholars] in our hundreds of Mosdos [schools for Orthodox Jews]. It was clearly proven that while the State and district have the legal responsibility for transportation and special education services for the entire Lakewood community, they refused to count our students in their calculations for State aid. Hopefully we expect that this huge win will fund the Lakewood School District properly and permanently, so that they can provide full and robust services to all of Lakewood’s children as required by law.
“On behalf of the entire Kehilla [congregation or community], we offer our deep Hakoras Hatov [gratitude] and Bracha [blessing] that Aaron and his mishpacha [extended family] should be gebenched [blessed with children] with bracha and hatzlacha [prosperity].”