4 Lakewood school bus drivers weren’t wearing masks, district says
A Lakewood school bus driver was taken off the job after refusing to wear a mask.
The driver was one of four drivers observed on Wednesday morning not wearing a mask — two from Serman Tov bus company and two from Jay's bus company — while bringing students to the Spruce Street School, according to school district attorney Michael Inzelbuch.
One of those drivers also acted "in an inappropriate manner” toward district Director of Security Rob Desimone and was suspended for the duration of an investigation.
Inzelbuch also said that the district is investigating a teacher who briefly left her classroom unattended to conduct union business.
The drama in the district continues between Inzelbuch and Lakewood Education Association president Kimberlee Shaw, who have been at odds over whether schools are safe during the pandemic.
The Lakewood school district has students attending class full time with no hybrid option. The district said it would consider a hybrid plan for its most crowded school, Lakewood Middle, but the union wants all schools to be hybrid.
Superintendent Laura Winters met with Shaw on Thursday to discuss concerns about cleaning supplies, custodians not filling out cleaning logs and additions to the custodial staff, an email shared by Inzelbuch shows.
In an email to Shaw, Inzelbuch said that the union has not provided specifics or proof of problems encountered by teaches.
"Why can’t specifics be provided as to alleged violations of the Superintendent’s Plan (that was reviewed and approved on the local, county and state level) be provided so they can be mitigated and reconciled???," Inzelbuch's email says.
Inzelbuch also accused Shaw of making "personal attacks" and filing "frivolous complaints against staff." He also wrote that "my family was made to feel threatened, and that is simply unacceptable."
"We have no idea what that's about," Lakewood Education Association spokeswoman Dawn Hiltner told New Jersey 101.5. "I don't know why he thinks this is about him. We're just trying to get safe conditions for our staff members and their students and he's intent on making this something personal."
Inzelbuch was unavailable for comment on Saturday.
Hiltner said the union is concerned that the district is not following through on promises to fix issues and said there are many problems that need to be resolved to prevent a potential outbreak.
"The district keeps saying things are being fixed and things are being taken care of but we're not seeing it. Just because they say the custodians will do a better job of cleaning doesn't mean it's actually happened yet, " Hiltner said.
Hiltner said there are also concerns about a staffing shortage in which members are supervising several classes from the hallway during lunch.
"They're trying to pull different teachers that are supposed to do resource room or special ed services and pulling them into this situation to watch kids. Yet they're talking about staying in this model of staying in cohorts where you're not exposed to people outside your cohort. But then if you're bringing in people who are jumping from cohort to cohort, you're cross contaminating your cohorts," Hiltner said.
Members are still trying to negotiate with the district.
"We're not in a position to do any kind of work stoppage or anything at this particular juncture," Hiltner said.