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Here’s Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger León at last week’s School Board meeting: “As it relates to bomb threats, if there would have been one we would have talked about it. It’s extremely important that we do not add to mass hysteria by saying there was a bomb threat in Newark when there wasn’t one.”
One problem: There were several bomb threat and, according to parents as well as school records, León is lying.
It’s not the first time.
Here are three facts about the non-bomb threats, as reported by Chalkbeat:
Fact #1: Last Tuesday two schools were, in fact, evacuated –Park Elementary School and Technology High School–due to bomb threats that were later found to be “not credible.” But no one told parents. Taina Rodriguez, whose child attends Park Elementary, said, “they need to let the parents know for sure what exactly is going on. Don’t sit here and lie to us knowing that we already know what’s going on.”
Fact #2: Newark Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara said in a statement, “police responded to calls about explosive devices at Park Elementary School and Technology High School on Tuesday morning, but found none. Police are continuing to investigate.”
Fact #3: The principal of People’s Prep, a Newark public charter school that León tried to get shut down, sent an email to parents Wednesday morning explaining in detail how the school had received a bomb threat and “police had determined the threat was ‘non-credible.'” This is relevant because People’s Prep is housed in the same building as Bard High School Early College Newark, a selective district magnet school. So if People’s Prep had a bomb threat, so did Bard. According to one mother whose daughter attends Bard (and was badly frightened), “neither the school nor the district informed her about Wednesday’s bomb threat even after her daughter observed a police bomb squad outside of the building…The best way to get information is to get it from your kids and their friends, and that’s not right.”
Or, as Andrew Ujifusa of PoliticsK-12 tweeted,
— Andrew Ujifusa (@AndrewUjifusa) May 27, 2022
Chalkbeat notes that the NJ Department of Education requires districts to maintain safety and security plans, which must be available to the public. Yet the plan is not on the district website and “the spokesperson did not respond when asked where it is located.” When a school board member suggested the district post updates on Facebook so families can be aware of emergency situations, León claimed this would negate the value of safety drills, “though no one at the meeting had suggested notifying families in advance of plain-old drills.”“People need to know that we can’t call you at your house and say, ‘Hi, we’re doing a drill in the school,’” he said. “We don’t publicize it to students because it’s a drill.”
León’s tendency to bend facts to suit his narrative is a feature of his stewardship, not a bug. In March he (or someone on his staff) altered graphs to hide the truth that 9 out of 10 Newark students were expected to fail state math tests. Last year his office submitted district data showing nearly 100% of students were present for remote instruction-a feat accomplished by instructing teachers not to enter absences into PowerSchool. He continues to try to shut down the city’s popular charter schools by brazenly distorting reality. and engaging in “ideology and factual misstatements.”
Hey, at least he’s consistent.
(Photo courtesy of TapInto)