In Perth Amboy, NJ, school officials have recently received a letter from Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey sharply criticizing their handling of recent criminal activity by members of their juvenile student body, as well as warning them of likely legal action should they continue in the same way. This is a clear example of how incidents that take place in school walls can have a real-world effect, and understanding just how important it is for young people and those that work with them to know the reaches of the law, and how it can be used to protect and also restrict them.
What was done: Among the crimes listed in the letter by Prosecutor Carey are a knife assault, possession of BB gun firearms, and a sexting incident. The school did not report any of these crimes to the local police, which Carey says could leave them liable for a civil suit, as well as further endanger students and staff members.
Who was involved: Though the letter from Carey was addressed broadly to the school officials, it was sent directly to the superintendent of schools, David Ronan, as well as multiple principals of the schools where the incidents took place. It came at the urging of community members who felt that their safety and those of the juvenile students was being threatened, as well as through conferring with members of the Perth Amboy Police Department and the Deputy Police Chief Larry Catalano. The police involvement into the crimes was discussed in the letter, and said that officials did not cooperate with law enforcement throughout their attempted investigations.
What went wrong: Because the school officials did not cooperate with police or fully report the crimes being done in their schools, Carey says that they were in clear violation of the Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials, an act that is in place to ensure the safety of the public and the juvenile students by making both school officials and police cooperate in doing both of their jobs better.
The Final Word: Prosecutor Carey chose to end his letter on a note of emphasizing the special responsibility the school has on the safety of their juvenile students and staff, calling it “of paramount importance”, admonishing these high up officials for not having done more to protect those in their care. He also attached a copy of the agreement between police and school officials, mentioned above, including the school officials signature on the document. These officials have yet to release a public response to the letter and charges.
In this example of a school district being publicly reprimanded for failing to report student crimes to police, it’s clear that the actions of students within a school district can result in real-world consequence and legal trouble. If your child is in trouble or need of legal representation for crime-related charges, David C. Barry can help. Call my office today at 732-238-8686 for a free consultation and to learn about my vast experience in juvenile justice.