Ethnic tensions infuse Lawrence school vote
Tension between Orthodox Jews in Lawrence and the rest of the community is reaching a fever pitch as school board elections near.
Six out of the seven school board members are Orthodox Jews, who send their children to private schools. Parents of the public school students say the district?s funds should not be controlled by parents who don?t use the school system. Some parents say the board's mission is to lower taxes by gutting the public school system.
?They are really not concerned about our kids,? school board candidate John Kinder says of the board members.
Parents point to educational programs that have been cut and an entire school the board plans to shut down as evidence it is trying to destroy the school district. However, Board Member Uri Kaufman says School #6 is being shut down because enrollment in the district has plunged. He says it makes sense to close it and says the board has done a lot of good for the district, including passing universal pre-K classes.
?We've seen our grades either hold their own or go up across the board,? Kaufman says. ?I would just ask people to judge me on my record and on the record of the board.?
Members of the Orthodox community say they have every right to have a say in how their tax dollars are being spent, even though they don?t send their kids to public school.
Parents in the community say they?re increasingly concerned about the raucous school board meetings and the poor example the adults are setting by arguing. There may be as much tension between students as there is between parents.
?They're all like Jewish and like there's a lot of hatred against them. I know that's wrong, but,? ninth-grader Katherine Perez says. ?They only care about their kids, and their kids go to private schools and not everyone can afford private schools.?
Orthodox kids News 12 Long Island spoke to say it?s not fair to blame Jews. One called it racism.
More than 3,000 kids go to the Lawrence School District. Officials say about 4,000 in the area go to private schools.