On Wednesday January 9, 2013, the Newark Patch published an article entitled, “Does NJHS need a School Liaison Officer?”. Within that article was a somewhat disturbing line, which stated, “There has been a growing concern recently among school leadership and within the police department regarding the increased violence at Newark Junior High.”According to the writer of the article, Nika Megino, this language was taken directly from the city council agenda. As of yesterday, Nika has attempted to clarify what she wrote and offered an apology to the Superintendent, Dave Marken. Also, city council member, John Becker has also offered an apology. I was told that a Mea Culpa was offered at last night’s city council meeting, but I have been able to confirm this. No one has been able to explain why this language was included in the city council agenda, but it is not true!
As the principal of this school, I want to reassure you all that we do not have a violence problem on this campus. Both students and staff report thefeeling of safety while on campus. The term violence is a blanket term that is often times used indiscriminately. Usually in a school setting, it is referring to fights on campus and/or bullying incidents. At Newark Jr. High, there has been a steady decrease in any type of violence on campus over the past 5 years, including a significant drop from last year to this year.
Last year, the district received money from the state from a "safe schools" account. The money could only be used for school safety. The high school already has a full time School Resource Officer and NJHS used to have one up until 2010 and then budget cuts took that away. The discussion of trying to fund another School Resource Officer has been in the works with the cooperation of the NPD and the school district since last school year. We were trying to figure out a way for the city to add an officer to get continual support in all of our schools. In fact, there will be an office spot at both NJHS and Bridgepoint School. This officer will be at both schools. We believe that a strong collaboration between the City and School District is critical. The City, in fact, shares those same sentiments. That is why we are excited about the opportunity to have an officer available in a more flexible setting to assist ALL of Newark's schools, including doing preventative meetings and presentations at some elementary schools and at the Jr. High School.
The teachers, campus monitors, and administration at NJHS are focused daily on making sure that this is a safe environment where your students can succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.
If you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns, please reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark E. Neal