LIVINGSTON, NJ — After hearing concern from community members as to why there were police officers patrolling the high school area prior to the start of the first day of school on Tuesday, the township released a statement explaining its decision to place officers in the vicinity at the request of the school district.

Over the last several years, it has become a tradition for members of the senior class to arrive to school early and gather in the Madonna Drive parking to celebrate the beginning of their final year at Livingston High School (LHS). However, according to the township, the school district has become aware that this tradition has occasionally involved underage drinking and other forms of “partying” by some students in recent years.

"In recent years, the ‘tradition’ had basically evolved into hundreds of students, unsupervised, spending the night in the parking lot partying, which has included underage drinking,” the township wrote in its public statement on Tuesday.

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Due to these “documented problems and safety concerns,” the township noted that the Livingston Public Schools district made the decision to keep the parking lot closed until 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

“At the request of the school district, the police department provided assistance in keeping the lot closed by placing traffic cones across the driveway entrances,” the township stated. “Unfortunately, the police soon discovered that the cones had been thrown into trash cans and students had written with chalk on the parking lot. While some of the chalk writings purported to ‘reserve’ parking spaces, there was also vulgar and profane language and inappropriate graffiti and drawings written on the parking lot.

“As this parking lot is open to the general public, the police department had no choice but to have the fire department hose down the lot to remove the offensive language and drawings.”

Some parents have taken to social media and other outlets to voice their opinions over this decision, some approving of the measures taken to ensure the safety of students and others raising concern over the fairness toward students who are not participating in the illegal activities.

The township stated that any questions or concerns over the decision to keep the parking lot closed until 7 a.m. or how senior parking will be handled in the future should be directed to the school district offices.

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