Lakewood, NJ – It is the end of an era on the township’s school board.
The Lakewood Board of Education swore in newly elected members Monday, and one of its first official actions was to oust longtime attorney Michael Inzelbuch, whose forte is special education.
Inzelbuch served as board attorney and was a district employee as the special education consultant.
Though Inzelbuch was replaced as Board of Education attorney at Monday’s board meeting, he continues to collect a salary of $122,655 for his position as a special education consultant.
The contract period ends June 30, said Carl Fink, the newly appointed board president. “Any cases between now and June 30 will be reviewed” with Inzelbuch and the new attorney prior to going into court, Fink said.
The attorney switch saves the district $50 per billing hour because Inzelbuch charged $250 per hour, and the firm that replaces him — Schwartz, Simon, Edelstein and Celso, with offices in Red Bank, Whippany and New York — charges $200 per hour.
In 2011, Inzelbuch was paid $387,965 for legal services billed at $250 per hour in addition to his $122,655 consultant salary.
Sworn in Monday were newly elected members Joel Schwartz and Lee Mund. Incumbent Jonathan Silver also began his second term as of Monday.
Fink, chosen as new board president, replaces Meir Grunhut, who was defeated along with Irene Miccio in the April 17 election. Miccio and Grunhut were the longest seated members of the township Board of Education.
Mund and Schwartz also serve on the Lakewood Township Zoning Board. The meeting was held at the Lakewood High School. About 100 people attended.
The board said it planned to continue the meeting on May 1 at the board offices, 1771 Route 9. Public meetings would begin at 8 p.m. Executive sessions would begin at 6 p.m.
Fink said that there would be committees set up that included board members, parents, students and educators.
Among a list of priorities, board member Tracey Tift said settling the teacher’s contract is most important next to finding a replacement for Superintendent Lydia Silva who announced March 10 she was retiring effective June 30 when her contract ends.
The board also plans to hire a full-time grant writer, and open vocational classes in the high school to help more students graduate through alternative means.
Janice Boski, president of the Lakewood Education Association, said she was “in shock” with the positive direction of the board.
The union has been without a contract for two years and there has been a mass exodus of staff leaving for other districts with higher pay and fewer problems. The union and the school board are currently working with a mediator on the negotiations.
Hearing the board say that settling the contract is a priority is like “seeing a light at the end of the tunnel,” Boski said.
“It has been my privilege to serve all the children of Lakewood over the last 12-plus years,” Inzelbuch said when reached after the meeting. “As a professional I will do anything to make the transition seamless” for the district.