Monday, October 15, 2007

Hearing Tuesday on School Violence

Tuesday’s school board meeting has two aspects.

On the district’s web site, it is billed as a business meeting at 7 p.m. (Oct. 16) in Hubbard School. But scrolling down to the bottom of the home page reveals it is also the time of a public hearing on violence and vandalism in the schools.

School Board President Patricia Barksdale confirmed that a public hearing will take place.

Considering that a teacher was attacked in his classroom and a vice principal was assaulted last year, one would think that the topic would have been given more prominence.

Most recently, Plaintalker has been told there were assaults on security officers in connection with picking up truants.

But the NJQSAC report citing 500 police calls to Plainfield High School was erroneous, according to Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig, who said the list was raw data on responses to everything from medical helicopter landings to car crashes on the block. Hellwig said there were maybe 20 to 30 actual police calls for disturbances at the high school.

Still, violence in the schools is a major issue and anecdotally has been a prime reason why parents tend to pull their children out of the public schools before sending them to middle school. The emergence of gangs in recent years has only added to the fear of violence.

No agenda was online at the district web site nor was one available at the public library Saturday. The public hearing was listed under “District Events” at the bottom of the home page.

--Bernice Paglia


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