Hear, hear Ridgewood parent! We need to stand up to these bullies in the REA and our BOE and claim back our schools. Fishbein, Gorman, and a number of the Trustees need to go. It starts at the top and until we admit our schools are no longer what they once were, we cannot begin to address the multitude of problems.
file photo by Boyd Loving
Cyberbullying, bullying, sexting, beatings. 10 long years of persistent, awful conduct in our schools, documented and covered all over the news, including CBS, and nothing changes. The schools are a mess, and they just try to cover it all up. No wonder the rankings are dropping, with this administration. Who would want their kids to go here?
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, sources tell the Ridgewood blog that in September 2018 a member of the Ridgewood Girls Varsity Tennis Team posted a derogatory unsportsmanlike photo on social media of a Ramapo High School Girls varsity tennis player . Despite complaints from Ramapo School representatives and parents , the Ridgewood High School administration has done nothing and according to sources acted like nothing ever happened.
This is true. In most instances. Take the whole pride flag debacle. Anyone who dared say they didn’t want it hanging on village property was labeled a homophobe. When the mayor tried to consider legal ramifications, Jeff Voigt and Jan Philips went after her with cries of bigotry. It is a conversation ender. Just horrible.
The following column appeared in The Ridgewood News on November 24, 2017.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
It’s been quite a month in our idyllic community. Faced with the fallout from a serious student incident that occurred on district property after school hours, our Village has been challenged to ponder some equally serious questions. How is that Ridgewood children chose to resolve their issues with serious physical violence rather than civil mediation? Why did bystanders feel motivated to record the incident rather than rush to intervene? What part did social media play in fueling the dispute and shaping the community’s reactions, rumors, rants and pointing of fingers?
Importantly, too: With the investigation now completed and behind us, where do we go from here? How can this incident be used as an opportunity to do better?
We are asking all of those questions at the school district level, starting by examining our student policies, as you already have heard us say. I invite you to look at the policies, especially 5512, which covers Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying, and also 5600, our Student Discipline Code of Conduct. The policies, which also detail how often they are revised, may be found on our website at www.ridgewood.k12.nj.us.
As important as the policies are, to a large extent examining them is the not-so-difficult part of the task ahead. I say this because policies are generally rules for dealing with the aftermath of incidents or instructions in how to do certain things, and we are equally intent on finding ways to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place.
Equally important is the need for all of us as individuals, as parents and guardians, mentors and coaches, residents and neighbors, to ask the above questions of ourselves. Such incidents challenge us to examine our own personal policies and behaviors, to look at how we can do better at modeling the behaviors we want our children to adopt as they grow into mature adults and assume the responsibilities as our society’s leaders of tomorrow.
For the most part, I think it’s fair to pat ourselves on the back. We do a terrific job in this community of raising responsible kids, and that is because we really are good people ourselves. We clearly have big hearts that are in the right place, proven by the endless list of ways we teach our children to try to make a difference. The full coin jars for hurricane relief, overflowing shoe collections for the needy, piles of coats and bags of groceries that are regularly collected, successful Pink Outs and Pajama Days for worthy causes, all point to the success of our parents and guardians, our teachers and administrators, in modeling strong values that align with Thanks and Giving, a favorite theme of mine and so many others at this time of year.
So how is it that a community so good at doing Thanks and Giving is facing such difficult questions at the moment? While I do not have that answer, nor the answers to the other challenging questions above, I will suggest that just as Thanks and Giving are important to our health and wellbeing as individuals and members of society, the practice of for-giving is vital, too.
Forgiveness. It takes humbleness and swallowing of pride and can be difficult. But as we know, forgiveness is also a very cathartic act, as well as the foundation for reconciliation, which is why we teach our children to say they are sorry from their earliest days.
At this time of Thanksgiving and the beginning of the magical holiday season when there is always much talk about counting our blessings and peace on earth, I’d like to encourage us all to think about forgiveness, too. It just may help us move forward, to grapple as a community with our issues in an honest and loving way.
I maintain hope that this incident and our reflections together will result in shaping us into even worthier citizens, an even stronger community, and yes, ultimately a better world that lives in peace.
Go Cowboys! And remember the Kelly Creegan Foundation’s annual Coat Drive this Saturday at Graydon parking lot!
As always, please feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns.
Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
file photo by Boyd Loving
Here’s a few questions, presumably germane:
A. If one posseses digitally-stored indecent pictures of an adolescent minor, but that adolescent minor is oneself, is this okay (i.e., does this constitute a legal loophole)?
B. If one **distributes** indecent pictures of an adolescent minor, but that adolescent minor is oneself, is this okay (i.e., does this constitute a legal loophole)?
C. Presuming, solely for the purposes of discussion, that the answer to question B is “yes”, does this additional information change the answer to “no”?: The individuals to whom you distributed the indecent pictures of an adolescent minor are, themselves, minors?
Boys in today’s society were already facing plenty of pits into which to fall. Now they need to contend with this? Talk about instigating absolute chaos.
file photo by Boyd Loving
These questions from a commenter to an earlier post still seem important:
what if a girl texted naked photos of herself to 2 freshman? What if one of the freshmen was bi-racial and the other was small for his age? What if the girl who texted these naked pictures had a boyfriend in 11th grade, that was REALLY mad that someone had pics of his gal? What if the girls boyfriend, a Junior born and bred in Ridgewood, challenged the small freshman to a fight and taunted him via social media. What if the other freshman, who also received the naked pics from this girl, came to his smaller friends defense because of the disparity in size between the two boys? What if the Junior then called him a Nigger. Over and over again, called him a Nigger and challenged him to a fight, on social media with everyone standing by. What if this freshman accepted, who had been called a Nigger on social media over and over again, accepted the challenge to fight and met the Junior? And what if, when the freshman showed up, not only was the Junior there and ready to fight, but 40 of his closest friends armed with their phones video taping? What if the wrestling team wasn’t there? What if there was a fight and the freshman, the “Nigger” punched twice, and the second punch knocked the Junior flat on his back? What if the Juniors friends were cheering and videotaping? What if the Junior’s friends chased the “nigger” off the field instead of calling 911? What if the Junior came home and was unable to share the truth with his family, because he was ashamed and embarrassed? And what if, he embellished the truth to save face? What if an enraged and upset Aunt posted the Juniors embellished story on Facebook? What if we all believed the “story” because the media picked it up and what if there was a modern day lynching of this so called “brutal animal” on social media because we believe anything that’s posted, must be true? What if the Juniors grandfather misspoke at the BOE meeting indicating the “victim” didn’t know the attacker, but yet a simple Facebook search could indicate otherwise? What if we blamed the BOE for not expelling the brutal animal immediately when quite possibly he could be the victim? What if it were your kid?
file photo by Boyd Loving
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, according to North Jersey Media two boys a 14-year-old boy and 16-year-old boy were charged in the Oct. 28 incident. The boys have been charged with assault following a violent school incident in Ridgewood at Stevens Field and Brookside Field.
The Record reported that Police Chief Jacqueline Luthcke announced on Thursday. After an “extensive” investigation police charged with 14-year-old with aggravated assault and simple assault, and the 16-year-old with simple assault. Both teens have a juvenile court date pending in Hackensack.
With the Village still reeling the school district and police have kept relatively quiet on what led up to and what caused the incident . However parent exchanges on Facebook have described what happened Oct. 27 and 28 as either a series of arranged fights or an outright assault, and the culmination of weeks online bullying. Some have questioned the account as being one sided ,and others have postulated far deeper issues than the public has been led to believe .
The Ridgewood school district still has to answer as to who knew and when did they know and why were school anti bullying policies not acted on .
Question: What do you call a person who rushes to the scene of an unfolding fight, starts recording video and still images of same without otherwise getting involved or trying to de-escalate the situation or protect the person who lost the fight?
Answer: A reporter!
The district wants to restrict the spread of facts. It does not want the truth of the matter to be revealed. It is now scrambling to literally bully and thresten all students from telling their parents or the news media what they know, or from showing the fight video to anyone the district doesn’t want to see it.
Law enforcement in Las Vegas was busy confiscating concert-goers’ cell phones in the immediate aftermath of the Mandalay Bay shooting. Why did they do this? To delete any and video of the “incident” from those cell phoned so they could take control of the “narrative”, and start spreading disinformation and propaganda. This cap has got to stop.
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, in the first Ridgewood Board of Education public meeting since news broke of the series of fights starting at Stevens Field and then on Brookside Field that sent a high school student to the hospital severely beaten , the Board of Education seemed to be in full CMA (Cover my arse ) mode .
While blog readers have understood with the Ridgewood Police Department now investigating,”This is far from cut and dry. Authorities are doing the right thing by exercising due diligence and making sure they have the full story and truth rather than rushing out to appease with a half informed statement that could expose them to a potential suit especially by the accused. Fishbein’s generalized comments are appropriate at this time , the immediate concern should be injured’s recovery regardless of who and what .When the real story comes out then people can assess whether suspensions or penalties are warranted . This is not going away for anyone anytime soon”
The angry crowd of parents and residents wanted answers .
In a message put out by Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools to parents and guardians ,Fishbein wrote “It is important to address and dispel rumors that are circulating in our community and to ask for your understanding that this issue, like all student issues that involve minors and are also part of a student’s record, is, and will remain, confidential. Just as we protect the privacy of your child’s record, we are compelled to do the same for all children involved in this incident. For this reason, we cannot comment on the episode or on the eventual outcome, but I do want to reassure you as both a parent and also as your Superintendent, that I trust the administration to act in the best interest of all the students involved, as well as the entire school community. Anyone found to be involved in this incident will be held accountable in an appropriate way, including possible legal proceedings, school discipline and/or counseling.”
While parents play the blame game the Ridgewood blog will continue to focus on who dropped the ball and who didn’t report the brewing conflict between the kids? Unless this happened over night someone at the school or a parent had to know something .
The policy is that the Ridgewood Board of Education explicitly and unequivocally prohibits acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying of its students. “Harassment, intimidation or bullying” means any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function, on a school bus, or off school grounds pursuant to law, that substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students and that:
a. a reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect of physically or emotionally harming a student or damaging the student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his person or damage to his property;
b. has the effect of insulting or demeaning any student or group of students; or
c. creates a hostile educational environment for the student by interfering with a student’s education or by severely or pervasively causing physical or emotional harm to the student. !
More importantly an event must be reported , “Any school employee, contracted service provider, Board of Education member, student or volunteer who has witnessed, or has reliable information that a student has been subject to, harassment, intimidation or bullying is obligated by law to report the incident to the school Principal. !
An act of student harassment, intimidation, or bullying must be reported verbally to the Principal on the same day the person witnesses or receives reliable information regarding the incident. ! The incident must then be reported to the Principal in writing, using the appropriate district form, within two (2) school days of when the incident was observed or the information was received.
As a permanent or substitute school employee, a contracted service provider, a Board of Education member, a student or a volunteer in a New Jersey public school district, one of your responsibilities is to know how to respond if you become aware of harassment, intimidation or bullying that needs to be reported.”