Angry Perth Amboy, NJ, Parents Crowd BOE Meeting After Stabbing of 11-year-old
PERTH AMBOY — Upset parents and teachers lined up to speak Thursday night at the first Board of Education meeting since a fifth-grade boy was stabbed.
Th 11-year-old boy was stabbed near his home by a fellow Shull Middle School student with a kitchen knife on Feb. 21 during a fight shortly after school let out for the day.
The boy continues to recover from surgery at home, his father told ABC 7 Eyewitness News.
Superintendent David Roman led a presentation titled "juvenile crimes within the community," which included a proposal for more school security, including metal detectors, armed guards and backpack searches. The superintendent said hand-held metal detectors will begin to be used at schools starting March 31.
The board previously voted to increase spending by $497,000 on upgrades to surveillance cameras.
Security too tough for some parents
Not all parents are comfortable with those measures and compared them to jail.
"It's just another way of converting our schools to prisons. Frankly, it would not have helped prevent the tragedy," one parent said during the public comment portion.
"The security guards are as rude as hell. They're rude to our kids bringing guns in, bringing armed security in will give them more reason, more ammo, to be meaner to our children. They will police our kids the way they police the streets," another parent said.
Violence at school didn't start with stabbing
Some at the meeting openly jeered Roman's optimistic view of students and the way the district has handled violence and security even before the stabbing.
"I am absolutely sick to death of the smoke and mirrors, theatrics, lies and coverups," a woman wearing a blue T-shirt said at the podium. The teachers union, Perth Amboy Federation — AFT, on its Facebook page encouraged members to wear blue to the meeting and be "truth tellers."
Roman accused the union of orchestrating a walkout at Perth Amboy High School, an accusation it denied.
"Although we support students’ freedom of speech, students should not do so during school hours. We are extremely disappointed that our teachers’ union leadership would encourage such a blatant disregard for school rules," Roman said. "Anyone who took advantage of this unfortunate situation and our students in this way to further a self-serving or political cause should be held accountable."