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Kearny High School Legal Issues


Kearny Lawyer
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Kearny High School  

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  1. 1. Has the KHS Administration handled these legal issues correctly?

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My alma mater, Kearny High School, has been cast in the national spotlight over the past 4 years concerning various matters. I think there needs to be a serious evaluation on what is going on there. From religion being included in classroom discussion to school uniforms and everywhere in between, the administration at Kearny High School has consistently defied even the most relaxed interpretations of the constitution. It is sad to ride by and see the school resemble a jail, far removed from its days as an institution of higher learning. Kearny was ranked 200 in the latest New Jersey Monthly High School list, not even in the top half. There were 4 Newark High Schools ranked higher. Education has been de-emphasized and now there seems to be a processing of students and a stifling of creativity. Once proud sports teams, even beloved Kearny Soccer, have been reduced to perennial losing status. Football was dropped at one point. Drugs are rampid, and nothing has been done about the out of district influx into the schools. Every day I see high school students getting off the NJ Transit bus from Newark Penn Station, yet nothing is done about that. We as tax payers fund the education of these students. The string of lawsuits that have and will in the future cost the taxpayers plenty. Over half of our property taxes collected by the town go towards our school district.

Religion in schools will always be a debate. It has been exasperated on this very forum, which thankfully provides a vehicle from which the public may voice opinions without crucification. There was a sex scandal within the school a couple of years ago. The handling of that situation by the administration was suspect at best. The legality of school uniforms in public schools may one day also be before the highest courts in the land. It may be deemed necessary at the elementary school level, but is it really a safety mechanism at the High School. This is a school with no less than 15 entrances and somehow we are led to believe that uniforms will provide safety for our children.

Isolated, these are topics and issues that may occur at most any school in the country. But the real question is: How come these types of controversies are always prevalent at Kearny High School in recent times?

Luckily, the Board of Education members have been able to this point bail out mistakes of the administration. To their credit they have been able to save millions of tax dollars while navigating clear of controversy and adverse publicity. The day may be coming where the BOE can no longer bail out the HS Administration from their inequities and inadequacies. And you know who gets to foot the bill? The Kearny Taxpayers, thats who. The funny part is 3 of the four members of the KHS administrations are not even from Kearny, and never have been, making Kearny High School their experimental playground for these shenanigans. The BOE should be commended for their cohesiveness to this point, seemingly having the best interests of the students at heart while additionally minimizing damaging financial repercussions. The hiring of Digesere may aleviate some future litigation and eventually increase the academic standing of the district as he is a noted educator, but until we get High School administration who are more of academians that educational standing of the the High School, which has unarguably deteriorated, will not rise. While at the graduation ceremony last year I perused the list of colleges that gave our students scholarships. It was a far cry from the Ivy League schools and higher instititutions that were prevalent when I graduated. And this is not a reflection of the economic condition but rather an indicator of the lack of academic achievement. We need to prioritize what is important and re-emphasize what is important so our children have a chance to succeed. Also we need to be more conscious of where our tax dollars are going, and make sure they are being channeled to the educating of our students, meaning Kearny students.

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My alma mater, Kearny High School, has been cast in the national spotlight over the past 4 years concerning various matters. I think there needs to be a serious evaluation on what is going on there. From religion being included in classroom discussion to school uniforms and everywhere in between, the administration at Kearny High School has consistently defied even the most relaxed interpretations of the constitution. It is sad to ride by and see the school resemble a jail, far removed from its days as an institution of higher learning. Kearny was ranked 200 in the latest New Jersey Monthly High School list, not even in the top half. There were 4 Newark High Schools ranked higher. Education has been de-emphasized and now there seems to be a processing of students and a stifling of creativity. Once proud sports teams, even beloved Kearny Soccer, have been reduced to perennial losing status. Football was dropped at one point. Drugs are rampid, and nothing has been done about the out of district influx into the schools. Every day I see high school students getting off the NJ Transit bus from Newark Penn Station, yet nothing is done about that. We as tax payers fund the education of these students. The string of lawsuits that have and will in the future cost the taxpayers plenty. Over half of our property taxes collected by the town go towards our school district.

Religion in schools will always be a debate. It has been exasperated on this very forum, which thankfully provides a vehicle from which the public may voice opinions without crucification. There was a sex scandal within the school a couple of years ago. The handling of that situation by the administration was suspect at best. The legality of school uniforms in public schools may one day also be before the highest courts in the land. It may be deemed necessary at the elementary school level, but is it really a safety mechanism at the High School. This is a school with no less than 15 entrances and somehow we are led to believe that uniforms will provide safety for our children.

Isolated, these are topics and issues that may occur at most any school in the country. But the real question is: How come these types of controversies are always prevalent at Kearny High School in recent times?

Luckily, the Board of Education members have been able to this point bail out mistakes of the administration. To their credit they have been able to save millions of tax dollars while navigating clear of controversy and adverse publicity. The day may be coming where the BOE can no longer bail out the HS Administration from their inequities and inadequacies. And you know who gets to foot the bill? The Kearny Taxpayers, thats who. The funny part is 3 of the four members of the KHS administrations are not even from Kearny, and never have been, making Kearny High School their experimental playground for these shenanigans. The BOE should be commended for their cohesiveness to this point, seemingly having the best interests of the students at heart while additionally minimizing damaging financial repercussions. The hiring of Digesere may aleviate some future litigation and eventually increase the academic standing of the district as he is a noted educator, but until we get High School administration who are more of academians that educational standing of the the High School, which has unarguably deteriorated, will not rise. While at the graduation ceremony last year I perused the list of colleges that gave our students scholarships. It was a far cry from the Ivy League schools and higher instititutions that were prevalent when I graduated. And this is not a reflection of the economic condition but rather an indicator of the lack of academic achievement. We need to prioritize what is important and re-emphasize what is important so our children have a chance to succeed. Also we need to be more conscious of where our tax dollars are going, and make sure they are being channeled to the educating of our students, meaning Kearny students.

Having graduated two years ago, I agree with you. The academia of the HS has dropped significantly through the years. There are many reasons as to why this has happened. One being the influx of students not speaking English. Secondly, students are not being disciplined by their parents to study and work hard. Thirdly, some teachers have become ineffective at teaching and from personal experience there are quite a few. We need the administration to emphasis academia over sports.

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My alma mater, Kearny High School, has been cast in the national spotlight over the past 4 years concerning various matters. I think there needs to be a serious evaluation on what is going on there. From religion being included in classroom discussion to school uniforms and everywhere in between, the administration at Kearny High School has consistently defied even the most relaxed interpretations of the constitution. It is sad to ride by and see the school resemble a jail, far removed from its days as an institution of higher learning. Kearny was ranked 200 in the latest New Jersey Monthly High School list, not even in the top half. There were 4 Newark High Schools ranked higher. Education has been de-emphasized and now there seems to be a processing of students and a stifling of creativity. Once proud sports teams, even beloved Kearny Soccer, have been reduced to perennial losing status. Football was dropped at one point. Drugs are rampid, and nothing has been done about the out of district influx into the schools. Every day I see high school students getting off the NJ Transit bus from Newark Penn Station, yet nothing is done about that. We as tax payers fund the education of these students. The string of lawsuits that have and will in the future cost the taxpayers plenty. Over half of our property taxes collected by the town go towards our school district.

Religion in schools will always be a debate. It has been exasperated on this very forum, which thankfully provides a vehicle from which the public may voice opinions without crucification. There was a sex scandal within the school a couple of years ago. The handling of that situation by the administration was suspect at best. The legality of school uniforms in public schools may one day also be before the highest courts in the land. It may be deemed necessary at the elementary school level, but is it really a safety mechanism at the High School. This is a school with no less than 15 entrances and somehow we are led to believe that uniforms will provide safety for our children.

Isolated, these are topics and issues that may occur at most any school in the country. But the real question is: How come these types of controversies are always prevalent at Kearny High School in recent times?

Luckily, the Board of Education members have been able to this point bail out mistakes of the administration. To their credit they have been able to save millions of tax dollars while navigating clear of controversy and adverse publicity. The day may be coming where the BOE can no longer bail out the HS Administration from their inequities and inadequacies. And you know who gets to foot the bill? The Kearny Taxpayers, thats who. The funny part is 3 of the four members of the KHS administrations are not even from Kearny, and never have been, making Kearny High School their experimental playground for these shenanigans. The BOE should be commended for their cohesiveness to this point, seemingly having the best interests of the students at heart while additionally minimizing damaging financial repercussions. The hiring of Digesere may aleviate some future litigation and eventually increase the academic standing of the district as he is a noted educator, but until we get High School administration who are more of academians that educational standing of the the High School, which has unarguably deteriorated, will not rise. While at the graduation ceremony last year I perused the list of colleges that gave our students scholarships. It was a far cry from the Ivy League schools and higher instititutions that were prevalent when I graduated. And this is not a reflection of the economic condition but rather an indicator of the lack of academic achievement. We need to prioritize what is important and re-emphasize what is important so our children have a chance to succeed. Also we need to be more conscious of where our tax dollars are going, and make sure they are being channeled to the educating of our students, meaning Kearny students.

Your beating a beating a died horse with this topic, sorry to say. Most of the resident here rent, they don’t really care if taxes goes up. 50% percent of our taxes goes to the schools here with no results. There are several posts here that deal with large funds of money being transferred with no explains why, hiring of staff with HUGE salary with questionable experience, and policy that hurt students. On top of this, the only thing people seem to care about in this forum is pushing their political agendas.

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OK. So if the town is doing what they can to reduce the taxes, then the BOE must too. They cut police administration, which is vital to our safety. Then explain why we have High School administration making so much money? There needs to be a serious look at streamlining the administration at all the schools. I agree with "Kearny Lawyer", and on top of that the erroneous decisions by the administration in these legal matters at the High School has cost us more money. It does seem the BOE is looking to make cuts i.e. the guidance choice, we need to get rid of some of the dozens of V.P.s in the schools. A V.P. for Athletics? making $130,000? A V.P. for discipline also making $120,000 +? why not just add to the duties of a coach and pay him extra, and have a deanlike when Mr. Kirk ran the school. Kearny High was safe in the sixties and seventies, during turbulent times, what is the current crisis that requires us to pay a V.P. $120,000?

Your beating a beating a died horse with this topic, sorry to say. Most of the resident here rent, they don’t really care if taxes goes up. 50% percent of our taxes goes to the schools here with no results. There are several posts here that deal with large funds of money being transferred with no explains why, hiring of staff with HUGE salary with questionable experience, and policy that hurt students. On top of this, the only thing people seem to care about in this forum is pushing their political agendas.
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OK. So if the town is doing what they can to reduce the taxes, then the BOE must too. They cut police administration, which is vital to our safety. Then explain why we have High School administration making so much money? There needs to be a serious look at streamlining the administration at all the schools. I agree with "Kearny Lawyer", and on top of that the erroneous decisions by the administration in these legal matters at the High School has cost us more money. It does seem the BOE is looking to make cuts i.e. the guidance choice, we need to get rid of some of the dozens of V.P.s in the schools. A V.P. for Athletics? making $130,000? A V.P. for discipline also making $120,000 +? why not just add to the duties of a coach and pay him extra, and have a deanlike when Mr. Kirk ran the school. Kearny High was safe in the sixties and seventies, during turbulent times, what is the current crisis that requires us to pay a V.P. $120,000?

Ok this being said nothing going to happen here, people here are to concerned with useless world politics. Can you honestly say that a school district that hired a gym teacher to be principal and a music teacher to be a super was a good idea for the town or for the kids?

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Great point. What can be done about this?

Ok this being said nothing going to happen here, people here are to concerned with useless world politics. Can you honestly say that a school district that hired a gym teacher to be principal and a music teacher to be a super was a good idea for the town or for the kids?
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My alma mater, Kearny High School, has been cast in the national spotlight over the past 4 years concerning various matters. I think there needs to be a serious evaluation on what is going on there. From religion being included in classroom discussion to school uniforms and everywhere in between, the administration at Kearny High School has consistently defied even the most relaxed interpretations of the constitution. It is sad to ride by and see the school resemble a jail, far removed from its days as an institution of higher learning. Kearny was ranked 200 in the latest New Jersey Monthly High School list, not even in the top half. There were 4 Newark High Schools ranked higher. Education has been de-emphasized and now there seems to be a processing of students and a stifling of creativity. Once proud sports teams, even beloved Kearny Soccer, have been reduced to perennial losing status. Football was dropped at one point. Drugs are rampid, and nothing has been done about the out of district influx into the schools. Every day I see high school students getting off the NJ Transit bus from Newark Penn Station, yet nothing is done about that. We as tax payers fund the education of these students. The string of lawsuits that have and will in the future cost the taxpayers plenty. Over half of our property taxes collected by the town go towards our school district.

Religion in schools will always be a debate. It has been exasperated on this very forum, which thankfully provides a vehicle from which the public may voice opinions without crucification. There was a sex scandal within the school a couple of years ago. The handling of that situation by the administration was suspect at best. The legality of school uniforms in public schools may one day also be before the highest courts in the land. It may be deemed necessary at the elementary school level, but is it really a safety mechanism at the High School. This is a school with no less than 15 entrances and somehow we are led to believe that uniforms will provide safety for our children.

Isolated, these are topics and issues that may occur at most any school in the country. But the real question is: How come these types of controversies are always prevalent at Kearny High School in recent times?

Luckily, the Board of Education members have been able to this point bail out mistakes of the administration. To their credit they have been able to save millions of tax dollars while navigating clear of controversy and adverse publicity. The day may be coming where the BOE can no longer bail out the HS Administration from their inequities and inadequacies. And you know who gets to foot the bill? The Kearny Taxpayers, thats who. The funny part is 3 of the four members of the KHS administrations are not even from Kearny, and never have been, making Kearny High School their experimental playground for these shenanigans. The BOE should be commended for their cohesiveness to this point, seemingly having the best interests of the students at heart while additionally minimizing damaging financial repercussions. The hiring of Digesere may aleviate some future litigation and eventually increase the academic standing of the district as he is a noted educator, but until we get High School administration who are more of academians that educational standing of the the High School, which has unarguably deteriorated, will not rise. While at the graduation ceremony last year I perused the list of colleges that gave our students scholarships. It was a far cry from the Ivy League schools and higher instititutions that were prevalent when I graduated. And this is not a reflection of the economic condition but rather an indicator of the lack of academic achievement. We need to prioritize what is important and re-emphasize what is important so our children have a chance to succeed. Also we need to be more conscious of where our tax dollars are going, and make sure they are being channeled to the educating of our students, meaning Kearny students.

Don't just blame the administrators. It's the BOE that hires these people.

Also, the parents and students today are a far cry from even 20 years ago.

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TWO GREAT POINTS. BOE NEEDS TO EVALUATE AND ACT CONCERNING THESE ADMINISTRATORS. PARENTS ABSOLUTELY NEED TO START GETTING INVOLVED BOTH AT HOME AND AT BOE MEETINGS. THAT IS THE ONLY WAY THERE WILL BE CHANGE

Don't just blame the administrators. It's the BOE that hires these people.

Also, the parents and students today are a far cry from even 20 years ago.

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TWO GREAT POINTS. BOE NEEDS TO EVALUATE AND ACT CONCERNING THESE ADMINISTRATORS. PARENTS ABSOLUTELY NEED TO START GETTING INVOLVED BOTH AT HOME AND AT BOE MEETINGS. THAT IS THE ONLY WAY THERE WILL BE CHANGE

That would be great but the people in Kearny don’t care because most of the parents rent here. There no value for them in lowering tax because if they raise rent they’ll just find a cheaper apartment. Look in these forums and you’ll see people getting mad for high taxes, nothing gets done. No one goes to the meeting, any one here running for office is just looking to get money on the side. On top of this most of the topic here are about useless political view points, if you’re getting tired let’s do something. I was thinking of trying for BOE elections next year but honestly don’t know the requirements. If anyone wants to build a team to try for next year election I’m all ears.

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Guest BOE Watcher
Great point. What can be done about this?

Vote out ALL Board of ED members. Unfortunately you can only get rid of a couple at a time, but this can happen! I do give Mr. Campbell some credit, for sometimes he does question things, which is a start, but the numbers are against him.

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Guest Dream Team
That would be great but the people in Kearny don’t care because most of the parents rent here. There no value for them in lowering tax because if they raise rent they’ll just find a cheaper apartment. Look in these forums and you’ll see people getting mad for high taxes, nothing gets done. No one goes to the meeting, any one here running for office is just looking to get money on the side. On top of this most of the topic here are about useless political view points, if you’re getting tired let’s do something. I was thinking of trying for BOE elections next year but honestly don’t know the requirements. If anyone wants to build a team to try for next year election I’m all ears.

Requirements:

1- Ignorant

2- Conceited

3- Unaccountable

4- Have friends that need job placement.

5- Unwilling to steer away from the norm.

A team is in the works. A group that will have no "baggage". A group which will make the Right and Proper decisions based on what is best for the student, yet also with the notion of can the taxpayer sustain the effects of this decision.

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This BOE is doing a good job, presented with the many things they have been given. It is the High School administration which has led to all the problems the past 3 years. And it seems to be on-going. But this Board has bailed out their mistakes in many, many ways, and also saved the tax payers a boat load of money.

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This BOE is doing a good job, presented with the many things they have been given. It is the High School administration which has led to all the problems the past 3 years. And it seems to be on-going. But this Board has bailed out their mistakes in many, many ways, and also saved the tax payers a boat load of money.

Wow. You have to be kidding me. BOE doing a good job? They just hired a guy for 192,000 a year plus 3% a year increase. BOE had a large amount of money transferred and no one knows why (look at past post for this one). I loved how they handle the no teaching religion issue. On top of all this, there sucking 50% of our taxes with no academic results, I would love to see where you’re getting your information.

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Yes. The BOE is doing a very good job. Any superintendent they hired would have commanded that kind of salary. Digesere is a good fit. The only problem with Digesere is his closeness with the High School administration, namely Somma and Ragnoni. The BOE handled the Religion issue very well, it was the administration who botched it. Same as the sex scandal, the administration is poorly equipped to handle these sort of situations. The BOE save millions in lawsuits. You are correct about the 50% of taxes going to education, but that is most any municipality. Leadbetter has the right idea, we need to get more industry in South Kearny like the old days, that will give in more income and reduce burden on the tax paying public. But if not for the BOE, txes would be on the rise with all these lawsuits.

Wow. You have to be kidding me. BOE doing a good job? They just hired a guy for 192,000 a year plus 3% a year increase. BOE had a large amount of money transferred and no one knows why (look at past post for this one). I loved how they handle the no teaching religion issue. On top of all this, there sucking 50% of our taxes with no academic results, I would love to see where you’re getting your information.
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Wow. You have to be kidding me. BOE doing a good job? They just hired a guy for 192,000 a year plus 3% a year increase. BOE had a large amount of money transferred and no one knows why (look at past post for this one). I loved how they handle the no teaching religion issue. On top of all this, there sucking 50% of our taxes with no academic results, I would love to see where you’re getting your information.

..and they hired backDeGesere at what salary?

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Vote out ALL Board of ED members. Unfortunately you can only get rid of a couple at a time, but this can happen! I do give Mr. Campbell some credit, for sometimes he does question things, which is a start, but the numbers are against him.

Its pretty easy to say "Vote out all of the Board of Ed members" without explaining why and without backing it up with some specifics. I've been reading these posts on KOTW and have to wonder how people get their information to form such strong, negative opinions. The information available to the public doesn't seem to substantiate these claims or people's positions. I attend board meetings as well as town council meetings from time to time. What I see is that the same people from the public are usually present at each meeting which doesn't amount to many. Rarely do people avail themselves of their right to voice their opinions publicly on the current topics in discussion. People in town just aren't interested in participating in government, least of all participating in government related to the education of our children. Being critical of our elected officials on this blog is a start but it doesn't have any real value unless people are willing to actively participate during public meetings.

I think the members of the BOE as well as the teachers and administrators of the Kearny school district should all be commended for meeting and exceeding the educational needs of our children. Contrary to some of the opinions posted, they seem to be doing it within budget and without raising taxes. Also contrary to some opinions, the people of Kearny do approve the BOE budget every year. Mr. Campbell should receive some credit for his input, as should the eight other board members, the superintendent, the teachers and administrators. All BOE members seem to question and debate issues when they arise during the public meetings. Collectively, they seem to work as a group and function as a board. It shouldn't be about the numbers being against Mr. Campbell but rather it should be about what is in the best interests of the children of our community. The BOE is comprised of nine individuals. One would expect that they could take nine different positions on any subject matter yet still agree on an outcome, whether or not it is a popular one. It would seem more important to know what is being voted on and how each member is voting rather than identifying board members that vote against the consensus solely because they can.

Just remember that elected officials of the BOE live in Kearny, pay the same taxes as everyone else and work to ensure that our children's educational needs are fulfilled.

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My alma mater, Kearny High School, has been cast in the national spotlight over the past 4 years concerning various matters. I think there needs to be a serious evaluation on what is going on there. From religion being included in classroom discussion to school uniforms and everywhere in between, the administration at Kearny High School has consistently defied even the most relaxed interpretations of the constitution. It is sad to ride by and see the school resemble a jail, far removed from its days as an institution of higher learning. Kearny was ranked 200 in the latest New Jersey Monthly High School list, not even in the top half. There were 4 Newark High Schools ranked higher. Education has been de-emphasized and now there seems to be a processing of students and a stifling of creativity. Once proud sports teams, even beloved Kearny Soccer, have been reduced to perennial losing status. Football was dropped at one point. Drugs are rampid, and nothing has been done about the out of district influx into the schools. Every day I see high school students getting off the NJ Transit bus from Newark Penn Station, yet nothing is done about that. We as tax payers fund the education of these students. The string of lawsuits that have and will in the future cost the taxpayers plenty. Over half of our property taxes collected by the town go towards our school district.

Religion in schools will always be a debate. It has been exasperated on this very forum, which thankfully provides a vehicle from which the public may voice opinions without crucification. There was a sex scandal within the school a couple of years ago. The handling of that situation by the administration was suspect at best. The legality of school uniforms in public schools may one day also be before the highest courts in the land. It may be deemed necessary at the elementary school level, but is it really a safety mechanism at the High School. This is a school with no less than 15 entrances and somehow we are led to believe that uniforms will provide safety for our children.

Isolated, these are topics and issues that may occur at most any school in the country. But the real question is: How come these types of controversies are always prevalent at Kearny High School in recent times?

Luckily, the Board of Education members have been able to this point bail out mistakes of the administration. To their credit they have been able to save millions of tax dollars while navigating clear of controversy and adverse publicity. The day may be coming where the BOE can no longer bail out the HS Administration from their inequities and inadequacies. And you know who gets to foot the bill? The Kearny Taxpayers, thats who. The funny part is 3 of the four members of the KHS administrations are not even from Kearny, and never have been, making Kearny High School their experimental playground for these shenanigans. The BOE should be commended for their cohesiveness to this point, seemingly having the best interests of the students at heart while additionally minimizing damaging financial repercussions. The hiring of Digesere may aleviate some future litigation and eventually increase the academic standing of the district as he is a noted educator, but until we get High School administration who are more of academians that educational standing of the the High School, which has unarguably deteriorated, will not rise. While at the graduation ceremony last year I perused the list of colleges that gave our students scholarships. It was a far cry from the Ivy League schools and higher instititutions that were prevalent when I graduated. And this is not a reflection of the economic condition but rather an indicator of the lack of academic achievement. We need to prioritize what is important and re-emphasize what is important so our children have a chance to succeed. Also we need to be more conscious of where our tax dollars are going, and make sure they are being channeled to the educating of our students, meaning Kearny students.

How can the Kearny BOE mandate wearing school uniforms through a policy as a pre-requisite to attending public schools for an education that children are legally entitled to and mandated to receive by law? Although the legality requiring school uniforms in public schools may not have been addressed recently by any court, previous court decisions indicate that the students have the right to express themselves through articles of clothing as long as the clothing does not present a distraction or a safety hazard. Dress codes have been affirmed by courts whereas uniforms policies have been deemed unconstitutional by other courts. It would seem to be an obvious infringement of a person’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression by requiring mandatory uniforms. Although it does show school spirit for those students that wish to participate, it infringes on the rights of other students that do not want a government entity such as the Kearny Board of Education dictating social order or social conformity. Although some people feel that kids are just kids and have no rights, they are actually mistaken. Children have the same rights under the Constitution. Parents have rights too.

Are uniforms really a safety mechanism at any school in Kearny? All schools have multiple entrances and students are still required to possess school supplied ID cards. How will uniforms provide safety for our children when ANYONE can show up at ANY VENDOR that sells the shirts and buy as many as they want without identification.

The Kearny Board of Education’s decision to create a standardized uniform policy in the Kearny School District was implemented and became effective on October 16, 2006. The idea for a uniform policy was proposed late in May of the 05-06 school year. This time frame did not give the parents who disagreed with the proposal enough time to research the issue and present alternatives.

The June 7, 2006 edition of The Observer reported that on Tuesday, June 6, 2006 a public forum was held at Lincoln School in the auditorium in which Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Robert Mooney, spoke with the people in attendance. He indicated that the debate was discussed in great detail by the Board and that no decision had been made as to the implementation of such a policy. The Observer also reported that the factors behind the uniform initiative were discussed. It listed the following reasons:

• Allow for more safety. It’s easier to tell who belongs and who doesn’t belong on a school campus.

• Removes gang influence, gang colors and gang paraphernalia from schools — including the elementary schools.

• Allow teachers and administrators to be certain that weapons, in most cases, are not brought onto school grounds.

• Dictate social equality, since not all students’ parents are able to afford high-priced regular “street” clothes.

• Instills pride among students.

• Calls for a significant savings for parents, since shirts will potentially be priced at only $6 a piece, with the first shirt being provided by the school district.

The following counters the points made:

• Allow for more safety. The Kearny School District already had an I.D. card program for identifying students.

A uniform was not necessary to make it easier to tell who belongs and who doesn’t belong on a school campus. Uniforms can be purchased by anyone and easily worn by anyone to make them look like they belong making them less than secure. I.D. cards are more secure as they are only issued to students and faculty. Ensuring enforcement of the current I.D. card use should have been more than sufficient to address this point. I.D cards are still required in addition to the uniforms.

• Removes gang influence, gang colors and gang paraphernalia from schools — including the elementary schools.

The color options presented by the Kearny School District at the forum and the blue chosen as the official uniform shirt for the elementary schools are actually used by some gangs. No definition was offered to identify what “gang paraphernalia” entailed as previous discussions indicated that a gang problem did not exist within our school system. When questioned about a gang problem, Mr. Mooney was quoted from the June 6, 2006 public forum by The Observer in its June 7, 2006 edition as saying, “The Kearny Police Department has been in the schools several times this year. We think the police and the school district, that gang influence is minimal. There may be some kids who aspire to get to that level, but in our discussion, we feel that, though there are some signs, the answer for the most part is no.” If the threat or perceived threat of gang influence was truly minimal, a requirement for uniforms was excessive and did not resolve this point of concern.

• Allow teachers and administrators to be certain that weapons, in most cases, are not brought onto school grounds.

This statement did not address children carrying book bags, lunch boxes or other carrying devices, all of which could surely become an even better route of entry for weapons. A requirement for uniforms did not resolve this point of concern.

• Dictate social equality, since not all students’ parents are able to afford high-priced regular “street” clothes.

The Kearny Board of Education should not have “dictated” anything to the parents of this school district regarding “social equality” because the KBOE is a government entity and as such is prohibited by law. Teaching tolerance for social differences to create equality among students is an individual parent’s responsibility towards their own children, not the Kearny Board of Education. A requirement for uniforms did nothing to address other items that convey “status” the same as or even more than street clothes, items such as “high priced” shoes, “high priced” jewelry, “high priced” backpacks, “high priced” lunchboxes, “high priced” hair styles and other “high priced” non-prohibited items. A uniform policy did nothing to resolve this point of concern.

• Instills pride among students.

Students taking ownership of activities that they are involved in such as participating in school, in sports and in other after-school activities instills pride. Parent’s support of their children’s participation in activities instills pride. Children having the option to wear clothing that makes them feel good by expressing themselves instills pride. This justification for a uniform requirement did nothing to resolve this point of concern.

• Calls for a significant savings for parents, since shirts will potentially be priced at only $6 a piece, with the first shirt being provided by the school district.

Requiring specific “school clothing” did nothing to create significant savings for parents. It actually created an additional expense for those same parents whose children do not have separate “school clothes” and “play clothes.” Parents had to obtain additional, specific clothing that is only worn in school, thus creating a considerable additional expense, especially if they have multiple children in the school system. It is now three years later and shirts can now be purchased for up to $20.00 each. Where is the cost savings now?

Another factor that related directly to uniforms and our children’s safety was and still is that should an emergency occur, having a few hundred students at any school all dressed the same, the ability to recognize an individual or individuals by clothing is lost. Clothing is an important identifier for police when a child abduction/missing child case is reported or when a crime is committed by or against a student. When all of the children look the same, valuable time is lost trying to provide police with additional specific information on other identifiers such as shoes, book bags or such.

The July 5, 2006 edition of The Observer reported that the Kearny Board of Education voted a week earlier, by a 4-1 margin, to institute a standardized uniform for the lower grades. The Kearny Board of Education’s position was pre-determined in a very short period prior to any open public opinion being heard.

There was and still is support for uniforms from families in the school district but the fact is that the Kearny Board of Education’s decision to require a mandatory uniform in this public school system is illegal. Instituting such a policy based upon the reasons provided by the Kearny Board of Education is a clear violation of our Constitutional rights, specifically violating our rights guaranteed under the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause and Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. In the 1969 court case, "Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District", the United States Supreme Court established the principle that a student’s appearance falls under First Amendment protection. The policy enacted by the Kearny Board of Education and revised recently infringes on both freedoms by restricting a child’s right to express themselves and their individuality through their attire. The uniform policy also restricts our rights as parents to make decisions about issues for our children based upon their best interests and not because of “popular opinion.”

In a letter sent to parents from Mr. Mooney dated July 2006, Mr. Mooney stated, “Surveys were sent home with an overwhelming positive response of 83%.” What they failed to mention was that only about 200 surveys were returned. Public opinion and strong emotional outpouring, not law, guided the Board’s decision to enact this policy.

The current uniform policy leaves too many unclear areas of concern, is too vague and creates situations open to interpretation regarding equal application and equal enforcement. The Kearny Board of Education has not clearly identified its ability to enforce such a policy. The uniform policy should be rescinded and an enforceable dress code should be implemented, uniforms could be allowed as an option.

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Guest FlyontheWall?

I am confused by FlyontheWall. You say the legal issues were handled good, then you go into quitepossibly the longest post ever on KOTW and say they did not handle the uniform policy correctly and it should be challenged. I agree with the uniform being unconstitutional, but probably too late to be rescinded now. But FlyontheWall should be a little more consistent.

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I am confused by FlyontheWall. You say the legal issues were handled good, then you go into quitepossibly the longest post ever on KOTW and say they did not handle the uniform policy correctly and it should be challenged. I agree with the uniform being unconstitutional, but probably too late to be rescinded now. But FlyontheWall should be a little more consistent.

Please let me clarify. This was not meant to confuse anyone as I was responding to two separate posts. My praise was meant for the current board. My conclusions are based upon what I've seen by attending meetings over the last four years. Good or bad, they seem to have the kids interests at heart. I was attempting to be critical of a decision made by the members of a previous board, the board that was in place three years ago. My hope was that I could stir enough of a debate regarding the uniforms that the policy would be reviewed and challenged by members of the current board. I think that this group of board members has the ability and the knowledge to do the right thing.

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Please let me clarify. This was not meant to confuse anyone as I was responding to two separate posts. My praise was meant for the current board. My conclusions are based upon what I've seen by attending meetings over the last four years. Good or bad, they seem to have the kids interests at heart. I was attempting to be critical of a decision made by the members of a previous board, the board that was in place three years ago. My hope was that I could stir enough of a debate regarding the uniforms that the policy would be reviewed and challenged by members of the current board. I think that this group of board members has the ability and the knowledge to do the right thing.

That's not going to happen. Any adult who works in the schools and most parents love the uniforms. It serves many other purposes, which you don't see because you are not in the trenches every day. The KHS students are doing a fine job all by themselves of expressing themselves with the uniforms. If you were there you would see how the kids have adjusted and it works very well for all.

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That's not going to happen. Any adult who works in the schools and most parents love the uniforms. It serves many other purposes, which you don't see because you are not in the trenches every day. The KHS students are doing a fine job all by themselves of expressing themselves with the uniforms. If you were there you would see how the kids have adjusted and it works very well for all.

I think it should happen. You say that any adult who works in the schools and most parents love the uniforms. I will disagree. Some parents like them and some don't. I would say the same ratio applies to school district employees. As for your statement that I don't see it serves other purposes because I am not in the trenches every day, are we at war or something in the schools? Should students' rights be eliminated because school employees love school uniforms? The point is that kids should be adjusted after three years but that doesn't make it right. As for it working well for all, make the uniforms optional and see how many students continue to wear them. That would be a true test.

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That's not going to happen. Any adult who works in the schools and most parents love the uniforms. It serves many other purposes, which you don't see because you are not in the trenches every day. The KHS students are doing a fine job all by themselves of expressing themselves with the uniforms. If you were there you would see how the kids have adjusted and it works very well for all.

Wow. If uniforms are such a great thing, why doesn't the KBOE mandate uniforms for all school district employees including teachers, administrators and even the Superintendent? It would be an easy way to catch teachers that sneak out of school to go shopping, the bank, etc. during school hours when they are supposed to be working. Why, you ask? Because the school district employees would immediately find their rights in jeopardy. Union grievances and lawsuits would follow immediately. They wouldn't tolerate being told what to do at such a personal level. This whole issue is about control. Maybe people feel threatened by the high number of non-caucasian students in town. Kids from Newark are still going to attend school in Kearny, uniforms or not.

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