The Ridgewood School administrators surely can’t stop everything, but as this blog has correctly reported in the last week, bullying and Cyberbullying has been rampant in the Ridgewood schools by students and athletes for a decade under this administration. When will they be held accountable?
Important letter from Dr. Fishbein:
I have been informed that the Ridgewood Police Department is investigating possible “sexting” incidents involving school-aged students in the school district. While these incidents did not happen at school, school authorities are working in conjunction with the Ridgewood Police Department on the investigation.
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, according to Kerry McDonald is a Senior Contributor for Intellectual Takeout , ” Parents are fed up. As mass schooling becomes more restrictive, more standardized and more far-reaching into a child’s young life, many parents are choosing alternatives. Increasingly, these parents are reclaiming their child’s education and are refocusing learning around children, family, and community in several different ways.”
It started as a trickle but now over two million U.S. children will be avoiding the school bus altogether in favor of homeschooling, an educational choice that has accelerated in recent years among both liberal and conservative families.
On top of homeschooling, an additional two million children will be educated this fall in charter schools. According to recent U.S. Department of Education data, the number of students currently enrolled in charter schools increased from 0.9 million in 2004 to 2.7 million in 2014, while the number of children enrolled in traditional public schools declined by 0.4 million during that same period. Taxpayer-funded but administered by predominantly private educational organizations, charter schools allow parents flexibility in choosing a school that is better aligned with their expectations and their child’s needs. Charter schools are often exempt from district policies and collective bargaining agreements that can halt innovation and experimentation, allowing them more instructional and organizational freedom. Demand for charter schools often outweighs current supply, with statewide charter caps, admissions lotteries, and long waiting lists leaving many parents discouraged and angry.
When Gov. Chris Christie leaves office , one of his clear legacies will be the growth of charter schools in New Jersey, with school enrollment more than doubling in his eight years in office.In July , his administration finished the job, announcing the final approval of five more schools to open this fall. That brings to 89 the number of charters that will be open when Christie steps down in January.
There will be close to 50,000 students enrolled in charters this fall, according to the state, up from less than 25,000 when he took office. More than 56,000 seats will be authorized with the latest approvals.
Advancing technology has also played a key roll . As online learning improves and expands, more parents are choosing virtual schools for their children over traditional public schools. Data from the non-profit organization, International Association for K-12 Online Learning, find that 310,000 young people in grades kindergarten through 12th grade participated in fully online programming in 2013, up from 200,000 in 2010. In addition to homeschoolers, charter school students, and virtual learners, more than four million children will avoid a traditional district school this fall to attend a U.S. private school.
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
The parents are to blame-if my kid got into a fight just a few days prior, you bet they would not be allowed to go out that weekend…I don’t care who started the fight, who won the fight, or who was in the right or wrong-my teen would be sitting at home for the next few weeks to “cool off”, (WITHOUT his/her phone) Social media is like fuel to a fire-shut it off and the fire dies. Maybe the parents didn’t know about the prior fight-that would be a different issue to deal with all together-called communication…
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, looks like the Ridgewood blog was not the only one with unanswered questions about the fighting incident that took place at Stevens and Brookside fields. We recently observed that the ,
“Ridgewood High School “ANTI BULLYING POLICY” was adapted in 2016 , it has very clear rolls for students , parents and staff, While the kids involved in the incident have gotten all the attention , the little public information that is available about the incident and what led up to the incident would lead anyone to suspect the Ridgewood High School anti bullying policy , despite years of finger wagging was not followed and it appears that not only were students documented to be in violation of the policy but clearly so were some staff and parents .”
After an investigation of the incident the Ridgewood Police charged a 14-year-old with aggravated assault and simple assault. The 16-year-old was charged with simple assault.
Which all let us to ask , “who knew ,when did they know and why did they not act?”
Looks like we were not alone Fort Lee attorney Rosemarie Arnold delivered two notices of intent to Ridgewood High School on Thursday stating that the parents of a 16-year-old boy intend to sue the Board of Education, high school principal Thomas Gorman and superintendent Daniel Fishbein because they allegedly violated their own policies regarding bullying and social media, sounds just like our article .
According to their website the Law Offices Rosemarie Arnold is based in Fort Lee Law and represents clients In New Jersey And New York. On their website they claim , ” we are a strong voice for victims of negligence.”
Aronold seems to go after big cases an is not afraid of a little attention. On her home page it states, “Our law firm receives significant attention in professional publications and major media outlets due to our success in high-profile cases.”
In the notice Arnold claims that the Ridgewood High School “did not implement proper social media and bullying policies and procedures’ .The notice also accuses Ridgewood High School of “not enforcing the meager policies they had in existence — therefore, students knew there were no penalties for violation of the policies, creating a culture of unrelenting bullying and harassment.”
Arnold went even further by accusing the school and district officials of a cover up, “to protect the school’s reputation and the reputation of the child of a teacher in the district.”
Arnold has also filed suit against SNAP Inc., the Delaware-based parent of Snapchat, as well as 47 unidentified students who “instigated, incited, aided or abetted and filmed the beating of the victim.”
Suddenly there is talk of ‘community’ and ‘keeping thing out of press’ and ‘children and parents sorting it out.’
Meanwhile just last week, a lynch mob was being riled up to break down doors, handcuff, imprison, institutionalize, expel at least 50+ high school kids.. err psycho animals and thugs. And a LOT of Ridgewood residents – both present and past – were in full agreement, whether they knew the first thing about the ‘incident’ or not.
I wonder what changed!
2C:16-1 Bias intimidation.
2C:16-1. Bias Intimidation.
a.Bias Intimidation. A person is guilty of the crime of bias intimidation if he commits, attempts to commit, conspires with another to commit, or threatens the immediate commission of an offense specified in chapters 11 through 18 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes; N.J.S.2C:33-4; N.J.S.2C:39-3; N.J.S.2C:39-4 or N.J.S.2C:39-5,
(1)with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity; or
(2)knowing that the conduct constituting the offense would cause an individual or group of individuals to be intimidated because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity; or
(3)under circumstances that caused any victim of the underlying offense to be intimidated and the victim, considering the manner in which the offense was committed, reasonably believed either that (a) the offense was committed with a purpose to intimidate the victim or any person or entity in whose welfare the victim is interested because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity, or (b) the victim or the victim’s property was selected to be the target of the offense because of the victim’s race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.
b.Permissive inference concerning selection of targeted person or property. Proof that the target of the underlying offense was selected by the defendant, or by another acting in concert with the defendant, because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity shall give rise to a permissive inference by the trier of fact that the defendant acted with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.
c.Grading. Bias intimidation is a crime of the fourth degree if the underlying offense referred to in subsection a. is a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense. Otherwise, bias intimidation is a crime one degree higher than the most serious underlying crime referred to in subsection a., except that where the underlying crime is a crime of the first degree, bias intimidation is a first-degree crime and the defendant upon conviction thereof may, notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:43-6, be sentenced to an ordinary term of imprisonment between 15 years and 30 years, with a presumptive term of 20 years.
d.Gender exemption in sexual offense prosecutions. It shall not be a violation of subsection a. if the underlying criminal offense is a violation of chapter 14 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes and the circumstance specified in paragraph (1), (2) or (3) of subsection a. of this section is based solely upon the gender of the victim.
e.Merger. Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:1-8 or any other provision of law, a conviction for bias intimidation shall not merge with a conviction of any of the underlying offenses referred to in subsection a. of this section, nor shall any conviction for such underlying offense merge with a conviction for bias intimidation. The court shall impose separate sentences upon a conviction for bias intimidation and a conviction of any underlying offense.
f.Additional Penalties. In addition to any fine imposed pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-3 or any term of imprisonment imposed pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, a court may order a person convicted of bias intimidation to one or more of the following:
(1)complete a class or program on sensitivity to diverse communities, or other similar training in the area of civil rights;
(2)complete a counseling program intended to reduce the tendency toward violent and antisocial behavior; and
(3)make payments or other compensation to a community-based program or local agency that provides services to victims of bias intimidation.
g.As used in this section “gender identity or expression” means having or being perceived as having a gender related identity or expression whether or not stereotypically associated with a person’s assigned sex at birth.
h.It shall not be a defense to a prosecution for a crime under this section that the defendant was mistaken as to the race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity of the victim.
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?