Speaking of needless vitriol directed at hard-working administrators, Lakewood Public Schools’ Superintendent Lydia Silva quit on Friday. She told the Asbury Park Press that she’s “been having trouble since Day One,” because of a cohort of splenetic board members who breached ethics laws during executive sessions, made “disparaging remarks about the fact that the majority of our parents are immigrants who do not speak English,” and announced that “they should all go back.”
Silva’s problems did indeed begin on Day One. The meeting at which she was hired in July 2009 seems typical for a Lakewood School Board session. In front of a raucous crowd, the Board, widely regarded as representing the 25,000 Orthodox Jewish students who don’t attend Lakewood public schools but are bussed to the many yeshivas in the neighborhood, voted down an extension of the contract for the current superintendent Eugenia Lawson. The Board President at the time, Leonard Thomas, mourned, “I am more than saddened; I am utterly disgusted.” Instead, in a 5-3 vote the Board approved Lydia Silva, then an assistant superintendent in Newark. “This is injustice, you should be ashamed of yourselves,” one woman shouted. Board attorney Michael Inzelbuch, who appears to run the school district, left the room. Attendees whispered, “Who is Lydia Silva?”
Superintendent Silva submitted a four-page resignation letter late Wednesday that lists her accomplishments, and reiterates her recommendation that the school district reconfigure its elementary and middle schools into K-8 buildings. (Here’s a youtube clip and here’s an article that describes the meeting last week where opponents to the plan filled the room and the Board backed down from approving the recommendation; she resigned the next day.)
After listing her accomplishment in the letter Silva concludes,
The aforementioned was certainly not easily accomplished in the face of the consistent resistance and unqualified criticism orchestrated by a few Board Members, finally forcing me to lodge Ethics Charges. The Ethics Charges Ranged from improperly and personally advocating for third party vendors to consistently making disparaging remarks about the fact that the majority of our parents are immigrants who do not speak English hence “they should all go back” and irresponsible rumor mongering…In the midst of our painstaking negotiations, remarks which were in violation of the Code of Ethics were made regarding our teachers, “let us fire all of them…it would save us money!”
Lakewood Public Schools has long been plagued by mismanagement, overexpenditures for special education for Orthodox Jewish students in the form of private placements, neglect of the (mostly) Hispanic students, poor test scores, and failed state monitoring assessments.