Michael Zajac, a teacher in Asbury Park and officer in the local teachers union, spoke up at the special board meeting Monday night in support of students, parents, and staff distressed by the district’s decision to lay-off teachers and withhold increments.
Yet Zajac’s contempt focused on the district leadership’s attitude towards new Athletic Director Troy Bowers, a favorite of superintendent Rashawn Adams, whom parents, students, and teachers allege acts in a bullying manner and uses inappropriate language with students. (For previous coverage, see here.) According to sources, more than one Asbury Park student has filed Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying complaints (HIB) under the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights (ABR) yet, contrary to law, no action was taken:
From the state website:
The ABR requires all acts of harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) to be reported to the school principal. The principal must notify parents of alleged student offenders and victims, and may discuss the availability of support services. The principal must initiate an investigation to be conducted by the school anti-bullying specialist. A report must be provided to the chief school administrator (CSA), who may take additional actions. The CSA must make a report on the incident to the board of education (BOE) and must provide parents with the required information about the investigation. The BOE must issue a written decision on the CSA’s report. Parents have the right to a BOE hearing, in executive session, within 10 days of their request, which could occur before or after the BOE’s decision.
Addressing the board, Zajac tells “of disturbing events at Asbury Park High School…that revolves around the current Athletic Director.” He describes an encounter Bowers had a with a student whose family is financially unstable and ended in a HIB complaint: Bowers throws a roll of money in the student’s face and says, “I have more money than your whole family.” This event, he says, “was reported by students, parents, and staff members. Was there an investigation? Was the student asked to make a statement? Were staff members questioned? No.”
Zajac continues with another inappropriate encounter: “the AD and a student had a heated verbal exchange and the AD said [the student] should have his father come in and perform oral sex on him….The biggest disappointment is the lack of investigation. The staff did their professional obligation to protect the student but there was no reprimand, nothing. What are we teaching here? The message is crystal clear…If you’re Dr. Adams’ crony you should have no worry about your behavior….he’ll turn a blind eye to it.”
Zajac’s allegation is that Asbury Park Public Schools failed to follow state law regarding HIB complaints. There has been no response from the district.
You can watch the video link yourself (at 1:11) of Zajack’s remarks here.
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