mea-president-gayl-shepardAccording to The Montclair Times, Montclair Education Association president Gayl Shepard wrote a second letter, dated May 6, to Superintendent MacCormack with more questions about the Glenfield Middle School BB gun incident. Barista Kids broke the news of her first letter, dated April 28 here.

Apparently Shepard is questioning MacCormack’s response to the Glenfield BB gun incident and if it complies with New Jersey Administrative Code section 6A:16-6.3, specifially part (b):

“Either the principal or the responsible staff member shall notify the chief school administrator, who in turn shall notify, as soon as possible, the county prosecutor or other law enforcement official designated by the county prosecutor to receive such information.”

According to New Jersey Administrative Code section 6A:16-1.1 (Purpose):

These rules specify minimum standards for district boards of education in establishing policies  and procedures and in operating programs to support the social, emotional and physical  development of students. Programs to support student development include school health services, athletic programs, intervention and referral services, programs of substance use  prevention, intervention and treatment referral, school safety and security, student discipline, reporting of potentially missing, abused or neglected child situations, home instruction and approved alternative education programs. Included in these rules are standards for the delivery of home instruction and school health services to nonpublic schools.

Based on that provision of the statute, it appears that the district must establish policies and procedures that meet the minimum standards contained in the statute.

When asked if this is correct and for a response, the Superintendent and Board provided us with the Montclair School Board Policy Code P-5131.7 Weapons and Dangerous Instruments, which states:

The board of education prohibits the possession and/or use of firearms, other weapons, or instruments that can be used as weapons on school property, on a school bus, at any school function, or while in route to or from school or any school function.

For the purpose of this policy “weapon” includes but is not limited to those items enumerated in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1r. The principal shall make the final determination that a particular object is a dangerous instrument in any case where there is a question of its possession or use posing a threat to pupils, staff or property.

Any pupil who is convicted or adjudicated delinquent for possession of a firearm or a crime while armed with a firearm or found knowingly in possession of a firearm on any school property, on a school bus, or at a school-based function shall be immediately removed from the school’s regular education program pending a hearing before the board to remove the pupil from the regular education program for a period of not less than one calendar year.

The principal/designee shall be responsible for the removal of such a pupil and shall immediately report the removal to the superintendent.  The superintendent may modify a pupil’s removal on a case-by-case basis.  The principal shall also notify the appropriate law enforcement agency of a possible violation of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice.

A pupil found or observed on school property or at a school event in possession of a weapon or dangerous instrument other than a firearm shall be reported to the principal/designee immediately.   The principal shall immediately inform the superintendent/designee and appropriate law enforcement officials with all known information concerning the matter, including the identity of the pupil involved.

Assault by a pupil with a weapon on a teacher, administrator, board member or other employee of the board is strictly prohibited and shall result in the pupil’s immediate removal from the general education program for a period not exceeding one calendar year.  Subject to a hearing before the board, the pupil shall be placed in an alternative education program.

The superintendent shall determine at the end of the year whether the pupil is prepared to return to the regular education program in accordance with procedures established by the commissioner of education.

Disciplinary action shall be taken against pupils who possess, handle, transmit or use firearms, other weapons, or dangerous instruments.  Classified pupils shall be disciplined in accordance with their IEP and in compliance with law and administrative code.  As in all disciplinary cases, due process will be provided (see policies  5114 Suspension and Expulsion and 5131 Conduct/Discipline).

A violence and vandalism report shall be filed whenever a pupil is found to be in possession of a firearm, other weapon, or dangerous instrument.

Felice Harrison, the district’s Interim Personnel Administrator, spoke to Barista Kids and stated that “Montclair’s district policies are in line with the New Jersey Administrative Codes.” She explained:

The Montclair Public School’s policy (P-5131-7), New Jersey Administrative Code Title 6A: 16-6.2 (b)13 through 15, and the “Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials”, are aligned.

The MPS Policy Weapons and Dangerous Instruments (P-5131.7), states that the principal shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency…

SUBCHAPTER 6 . LAW ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS FOR ALCOHOL, OTHER DRUGS, WEAPONS AND SAFETY Specifically: NJAC 6A:16-6.2(b)1 and 2 allows for the “chief school administrator” (superintendent) or “designee” (Building Principals/Designated School Officials) to contact  the local law enforcement agency (Montclair Police Department).

The NJAC 6A :16-6.2 relies on “A Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials”, which is approved by the Commissioner of Education, and is on file with the County, Montclair Police Department and Montclair Public Schools. This document lists all of the building principals, and the superintendent as “designated school officials”.

In sum, this is to confirm that the Montclair Public School policy P-5131.7 is directly in line with the NJAC 6A:16-6.2(b)13 through 15.

MEA president Gayl Shepard has not responded for comment.