Wall, NJ officials get blowback after offering to pay accused students
A powerful state Senate Democrat is calling on the Wall school superintendent and Board of Education to resign after an offer of free tuition was made to students accused of hazing and criminal sexual contact.
New Jersey 101.5 has learned that four students were made the offer before Monmouth County Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced the juvenile complaints against an unspecified number of students. The four students rejected the offer and have all returned to classes. NJ.com was first to report on the December offer.
State Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said the offer was upsetting enough for him to make a statement.
"It's kind of almost paying to let the problem go away and I'm calling on the state Department of Education to put a monitor in there. And if it means that the superintendent (Tracy Handerhan) and Board of Education need to resign then they should resign," Sarlo told New Jersey 101.5.
Board of Education offers to meet with Sarlo
Board of Education President Ralph Addonizio invited Sarlo to meet with the Board to provide him the facts they have already shared with the public.
"This should clear up any misinformation that has been spread over the last several weeks," Addonizio wrote.
Sarlo did not have a comment about the board's statement.
The Board and Linskey have not provided any details about what happened in the locker room or how many students were involved because state law protects the privacy of minors accused of crimes.
Chris Adams, an attorney who represents one of the students charged, told New Jersey 101.5 the incident was nothing more than "horseplay" between teenagers, a characterization that was disputed by the family of a victim.
State Sen. Robert Singer, R-Ocean, who represents Wall in the Legislature, says the state education commissioner should take a look at what happened.
We don't have the authority to remove elected officials. We don't have the power to remove superintendents. The commissioner of education does," Singer said.
"The fact that this happened is offensive to everyone. I don't know what the Prosecutor's Office knows. We're going to see that as it comes out. This is just a terrible thing. Everyone is shaken by this. How can you not be? This is something we all thought was in the past. Things like this were never going to happen again," Singer said.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ