CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael LaSusa has received messages and phone calls that have caused him to seek added security, and the Chatham Middle School has also beefed up security with continued national attention put on the district's curriculum, it was revealed Monday night at the regular meeting of the board of education.
Chatham's ongoing conversation about how the religion of Islam is taught in a seventh grade "World Cultures and Geography" class was brought to the fore recently when two Chatham mothers acquired representation in relation to possible legal action against the district.
"I have received numerous messages over the past couple of months," LaSusa said. "I've received messages that caused me to reach out to the police."
Chatham Township Police Officer Anthony LoPorto was in attendance at Monday night's board of education meeting because of the messages LaSusa has been receiving. The added security for LaSusa and the Chatham Middle School will continue through at least Tuesday, according to LaSusa.
"We have no reason to believe that students are unsafe. If we did, we would make additional arrangements or take further steps," LaSusa said. "Out of an abundance of precaution we've had some additional police presence anytime some of us, like me personally, have been receiving messages or phone calls that are inappropriate. But we have no reason to believe there is any threat or unsafe condition for our students. If we did, we would take more dramatic measures."
Chatham Middle School mothers Minati O'Connell and Ursula von Rydingsvard voiced their concerns about safety during the public portion of the Chatham BOE meeting.
Minati O'Connell was concerned that the attention being put on Chatham Middle School wasn't going to stop
Board member Michael Valenti, who has an extensive background in law enforcement, says the board will always put the students' safety first.
Valenti worked for 23 years with the Port Authority Police of New York and New Jersey. He served as deputy chief there and retired in 2008. While at the Port Authority, Valenti also served as assistant chief in the office of counter terrorism and also served as chief of detectives in the criminal investigative bureau.