These are some of my concerns, questions and opinions about Lakewood:
I believe our Constitution and the United States Code do not permit interfering with or obstructing the practice of a religion. It is also my understanding that there is a legal mandate in New Jersey that all citizens have a right to a thorough and efficient education, which includes an array of defined core subjects.
I question whether or not the selective exclusion of a moral and legal mandate by the clerical hierarchy of a religion absolves them and their faithful from a clear duty to provide their youth with what society in general and Lakewood - in particular - defines as a legal and necessary parental responsibility.
Children who complete a curriculum - sans core subjects- and are thereafter forced to earn a GED in order to become educated, self sufficient and productive members of society become the de facto cause and effect of a societal problem.
That problem is the intentional nurturing of a welfare dependent and state funded sub-culture cloaked as religious practice. The question then becomes whether or not a "school" that teaches religion can rationalize this as the practice of a religion and thereby deny its students their right to competent literacy by means of and a thorough and efficient education as mandated by law. In the absence of fulfillment of the law then we have intentional illiteracy, which becomes - de facto - prejudicial discrimination. In other words, the exclusion of their children from the norm. And if you are not part of the norm, why should the State pay for your recalcitrance?
There is an ancient doctrine in the law -Trespass Ab Initio - wherein one may enter upon the property of another and do harm and leave the property only to be presumed by the law to have intended to trespass and do harm "from the beginning". I am not a lawyer, but you get the point of "presumption".
The parallel I'm drawing is that the City of Lakewood's officials - including the VAAD and the IGUD - have known "from the beginning" that their Core Values and actions are not directed at or in line with the mandates of the New Jersey Constitution with respect for the rights of children. And therefore they cannot and should not raise the defense of religious practice to justify their children's ignorance and consequent illiteracy.
In the meantime, Lakewood is viewed by many with dismay at what appears to be a divinely sanctioned theocracy whose selective allegiance to our State Constitution defies the reality of its consequences with a flat affect on the face of what should be a governance enlightened and motivated by right reason and a passion for fairness to all.
Let me be clear - my passion for the rights of children will not be and is not about the practice of a religion. It is about justice and the well being of all our children and the future of our Nation.
I will end - however - with a sacred mandate for Lakewood and its officials: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country".