Working on school safety
Dear Editor: The tragic events that occurred in Newtown, Conn., the sadness that will continue for lifetimes and the personal, emotional trauma that will need to be treated by qualified professionals have touched America’s soul.
Frequently and justifiably, in the aftermath of such national tragedies, Americans respond and take meaningful efforts to eliminate the potential for similar acts.
It is in that spirit of the American ideal that as your Mayor, Police Commissioner and former Deputy Police Chief, I am planning to meet with our Lyndhurst Board of Education, Superintendent Tracey Marinelli and Police Chief James O’Connor to introduce a proposal for additional safety measures to implement as a “New-town” Safety Alert program for our public schools.
The purpose of this program is to ensure the safety of our students, teachers, administrators and janitorial staff while simultaneously creating an environment that contributes to the emotional and educational development of our children and the future of this great nation.
On behalf of the Township of Lyndhurst, our thoughts and prayers are with the Community of Newtown, Conn..
Robert B. Giangeruso
Mayor of Lyndhurst
At least show respect for opposing view
I am not a regular attendee at the Kearny Board of Education meetings. Recently, because of the importance of current agenda items, I have attended several meetings. I must report that I have been left completely amazed at the majority members’ total disregard for policy and procedure and their cavalier attitude toward their fellow board members and the general public.
On Monday, Dec. 10, the primary order of business was the hiring of a Superintendent of Schools, the singularly most important and influential position in any school district. As would be expected, the qualifications, certifications and credentials for this position are specific in statute and clearly spelled out in board policy. This, however, did not seem to be of any concern to the majority board members: (George) King, (John) Plaugic, (Robert) O’Malley, (John) Leadbeater and (Paul) Castelli who generally vote as a bloc. As an abbreviated discussion ensued, (the board attorney quickly called a halt to board and public questions) it became apparent that the candidate, Frank Ferraro, did not have the 10 years classroom teaching experience required. To accommodate him, the majority members arbitrarily reduced the requirement to five years, thus violating their own policy. Upon further investigation, via information obtained by board member Viscuso, it was determined that Mr. Ferarro was a substitute teacher who had worked the equivalent of less than three years in whole and half school days in the 1980s. Furthermore, the minority members of the board, (Sebastian) Viscuso, (Benadette) McDonald, (James) Doran and (Lisa Anne) Schalago, complained about not having access to Mr. Ferraro’s educational transcripts; that he was without professional references; and that he had yet to submit to a mandatory fingerprinting. So it would seem logical, as suggested by board member Doran, that this appointment be tabled until a more thorough and fair investigation could be completed; however, the majority called for a vote and hired a candidate whose resume appears to be somewhat exaggerated, seems to lack the qualifications to lead an educational community and has not completed the necessary background check. It should be noted that Mr. Ferraro may well be a suitable candidate but there is no way, from the information provided on Monday, for me or anyone else to make that determination.
I served on the Town Council for many years, where we didn’t always agree, but we followed the rules and respected the opposition opinion. I know proper procedure when I see it, and clearly what occurred at Monday’s board meeting was not it.
Sign up for home-based Nutley parleys
This past week President Obama shared with the nation that all of us need to come together as a nation to address the problems we are facing with regard to violence in our society.
After listening to the president and after much discussion with some of my staff members, and local residents about the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Conn., I realized that the people living in each of our communities truly want to help our nation heal from many wounds we are suffering as a result of the direction our society has travelled.
We all know that there will be much debate and discussion about guns, mental illness, and numerous political issues surrounding the problem of violence in our nation. And committees will be created, speeches will be made, and at the end of the day, not much will bedone. We have been down this road before.
However, what can change is how local government responds to national tragedies, especially the tragedy we are facing today.
I am convinced that those of us who serve as local government leaders can play an important role in leading our communities to effectively participate in the healing of our nation by putting political debate aside and focus on what we the people in every neighborhood represent: the heart, soul, and spirit of our nation.
History reveals that when government agencies schedule large community meetings for various topics very few people attend because of a number of reasons. However, I have experienced throughout my years in Nutley that people are willing to attend smaller more personal gatherings in their homes.
Therefore, as the Director of Public Affairs and Department of Health I am going to schedule several roundtable meetings in homes throughout our township, where parents of young children and other residents can gather together with their neighbors, local leadership, and experts, to discuss what we need to do as a society, beginning on a local level, to address the issues affecting all of us. I firmly believe that the fabric of our nation begins with the threads that run through every home, in every neighborhood. Such discussions will give everyone an opportunity to help.
Additionally, beginning January 2013, the Nutley Health Department in partnership with the Nutley Family Service Bureau will provide counseling 24/7 during a national tragedy. More information will be provided to the public after the New Year.
If you can participate in this effort, by scheduling a discussion group in your neighborhood please call the Department of Public Affairs at 973-284-4976 and let our staff know you would like to schedule a meeting in your neighborhood beginning January 2013.
Nutley Township Commissioner