LAKEWOOD - Thousands of private school children in Lakewood are starting the new school year without books because they weren't ordered in time, the administration says.
Many of the students attending Orthodox Jewish schools went back to class Tuesday and found out their new textbooks and workbooks had not arrived.
The public school district is required to provide many of the books for township children who go to private schools. Superintendent Laura Winters says unless parents formally asked for textbooks, she could not approve orders for thousands of them to go the private schools.
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The Lakewood Board of Education held an emergency meeting Wednesday night where administrators were asked to explain themselves.
The state's fiscal monitor, Michael Azzara says Lakewood hasn't followed the textbook laws for years, and the state could have just said no because parental requests were not in. "I don't know why this board or some of you board members are castigating Ms. Winters for doing her own due diligence."
Hundreds crowded the auditorium and applauded the board for taking the district to task on the textbook issue. "The tax dollar follows the child," says Avi Schnall. "No one is asking anyone from the public school system to pay for someone not in the public school system."
But some say furnishing 30,000 private school students with textbooks is unrealistic.
Concern over spending public money on private schools has sparked demonstrations and anger over after-school programs, busing and now textbooks.
Shiras Chaim School on Pine Street is among the many private schools affected. Parents say they are upset their kids don't have the tools necessary to learn.
One teacher told News 12 New Jersey that they'll have to make due with the books from last year.
Public school students who start class Thursday will have their new books.