Education

Interim Superintendent Sends Email to School Community About 'Insensitive Texting Incident' at Marshall School

334a12d0996e8e12f805_marshall_school.jpg
Marshall School in South Orange Credits: Joe Strupp - file photo
334a12d0996e8e12f805_marshall_school.jpg

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Thomas Ficarra, Interim Superintendent of the South Orange - Maplewood School District (SOMSD), sent the following email on Friday after a community meeting which was held on Thursday with Ficarra and parents/guardians of students at Marshall School regarding an "insensitive texting" incident involving school staff in December.

Ficara's email also included suggesting talking points for responding to questions from children.

Ficara's email began with the subject line, "Healing from Insensitive Texting Incident," and the text is as follows:

Sign Up for E-News

Dear SOMSD Families:

I met last night with Marshall School families to hear their concerns about an insensitive photo and text message sent by a staff member in December, and to share what I could, given the legal restrictions which prohibit public discussion of personnel matters. 

I began the meeting by affirming that the district is fully committed to the rights of all members of the community and will vigorously demand and ensure that all members of our community are able to work, learn and participate in every way, free from bias and intolerance in any form. 

I informed the families that swift and immediate action was taken relative to the facts that were known in December.  After a staff meeting on Tuesday, additional allegations were made, which are currently being investigated.  We are not able to publicly comment on the investigation.

Nevertheless, it is clear that this incident has impacted our community deeply.  While the internal personnel matters are addressed, I am also working with professionals trained in restorative practices to develop a multilayered, collaborative approach to help our community heal. 

I am committed to working with parents, teachers, administrators and students to ensure that everyone affected by the incident has a chance to repair and restore damaged relationships, and help the school community rebuild trust.

Since the incident is being covered by the press and in social media, your children may have questions.  We want to make sure that we guard against rumors, while also providing children with an opportunity to process what they have heard.  Below, we have provided suggested talking points that you can use in response to questions your children may ask.

I have committed to keeping the community informed of developments, within the constraints of what can and cannot be legally disclosed.

We appreciate your partnership, as we work together with kindness and respect for the dignity and rights of every member of our school community.  

Sincerely,

Dr. Thomas Ficarra

Interim Superintendent

Suggested Talking Points to Use With Children

  1. One of the core values of our community is that every student and staff member is an important part of our school family – everyone should feel that they are welcome, that they belong, and that they are valued and respected.
  2. You might have heard stories or rumors about one of our schools. We have heard stories as well, and we want to be very careful about spreading rumors.
  3. So far, what we know is that a staff member took an inappropriate photo of another staff member and texted it to a colleague.
  4. Right now there is an investigation into what happened so that we can fairly get all the facts from everyone's point of view.
  5. After all the facts are known, our district leaders will work hard to find a fair solution.
  6. Our family has an important part to play in making sure that everyone feels safe and welcome in our schools and in our community.
  7. This is a time that we can learn important lessons about being kind to one another, supporting each other, and doing our part to help to make things right if someone is hurt or treated unfairly.
  8. Right now, we don't have all the facts, but, we do know that anyone can make a mistake - even a big mistake.
  9. The important thing is that as a community we find a fair way to make it right for everyone who is involved and work together to make sure school is a safe place for you, and your classmates, and your teachers and other staff.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

Columbia High School Principal's Removal Raises More Questions Than It Answers

The last Twitter post from Columbia High School principal Elizabeth Aaron is very telling. 

The four-year CHS schools chief, who was recently, surprisingly, reassigned to a vague “Principal on Special Assignment” post by the school district, was a Twitter regular on her @CougarPrincipal account. There she would often promote the school’s successes and notable staff and ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Robberies Reported on July 5

July 15, 2018

July 2 - Motor Vehicle Theft; Sometime over the previous two days, a U-Haul truck was stolen from a business on Newark Way.

July 4 - Theft from Auto; During the overnight hours an unsecured vehicle parked on Elberta Rd was entered and keys were stolen from it.

July 5 - Robberies; At approximately 1:30 a.m., a male was assaulted by two males ridding bicycles while he was walking on ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Four Auto Thefts Reported Between June 21 and June 29

South Orange Police Blotter as of July 1

Auto Theft - A Seton Pl. resident reported that sometime between 11:00 pm, Wednesday 6-27-18 and 7:00 am, Thursday 6-28-18 actor(s) unknown stole his vehicle (2005 Toyota ), which was parked in the driveway at the time. The actor(s) entered another one of the victim's vehicles that was parked in the driveway, rummaged through the interior & ...

National Weather Service Issues Heat Advisory Through 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 17

July 16, 2018

NEW YORK, NY, - The National Weather Service issued a 'Heat Advisory' this morning for Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Union and Hudson Counties in New Jersey. The heat advisory will remain in effect from noon Monday July 16, until 6 p.m. Tuesday July 17.

Extreme heat can cause illness and death among at- risk population who cannot stay cool. The heat and humidity may cause heat stress during ...

Photos: 2018 Maplewoodstock Music & Art Festival

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Maplewoodstock was back July 14 and July 15 for its 15th weekend of live music, food, kids activities and more in Maplewood's Memorial Park.

Maplewoodstock opened at noon on Saturday with local SOMA band Amish Internet, and ended the day with the Reggae band Third World.

On Sunday, the first performance of the day was from Maplewood native Autumn ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_b20a8250917845925251_mini_magick20180715-93558-18g5bx1

Tue, July 17, 5:00 PM

Caldwell University Alumni Theater, Caldwell

Public Invited to Essex County Opioid Use ...

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_7611ce284a8c86d65b64_37d34f9a-c5cd-4fb1-8bf8-b5b7319cb94e

Wed, July 18, 10:00 AM

Paterson Board of Education , Paterson

Teacher Job Fair in Paterson

Education

Carousel_image_982bc8344531b1a37c85_par_440

Fri, July 20, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_af1b89eae735bf536426_par440_promo

Fri, July 20, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Statement From Emergency Committee to Reinstate Principal Aaron

July 10, 2018

** TUESDAY RALLY IS CANCELLED **

We created a movement. We leveraged our collective 1,600 voices and forced the District leadership to sit with us today [Monday] and discuss the poorly communicated, weekend announcement that CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron was being reassigned.

Our meeting was a first step in both accountability and transparency as Dr. Ficarra revealed Principal ...

Coalition on Race Responds to Changes in School District Administrators

The Board of Trustees of the Community Coalition on Race seeks racial equity, integration, and excellence in education for all students in our schools. While the pace of change has been frustratingly slow, we have seen some progress. Yet, candidly, there are too many students of color who are not well served in SOMA, who still experience segregated classrooms and who still suffer from racial ...

3rd Annual Newark International Film Festival Accepting Submissions

July 12, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Three days filled with celebrity guests and showcases from both local and international filmmakers are coming to the city in September.

The third annual Newark International Film Festival will return Sept. 6 and run through Sept. 9, 2018. The festival has grown each year since it was first created, with the city last year hosting 10,000 attendees seeing films across ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters here.

It’s one of two ordinances that were approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Downtown Scotch Plains May Eventually Look Like Princeton, According to Redevelopment Committee Feedback

July 15, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Residents who attended the Scotch Plains Downtown Redevelopment Committee (SPDRC) meeting on Wednesday night got a peak into what the future of the township will look like… and it looks a lot like Princeton.

Tom Strowe, the Township’s Project Coordinator for Redevelopment, presented findings of the recent survey on architectural styles. More than 2,100 ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Repairs to Boyden Avenue Between Elmwood Avenue and Springfield Avenue

July 15, 2018

On Monday, July 16, road repairs to the south side of Boyden Avenue between Elmwood Avenue and Springfield Avenue will take place for approximately one week pending weather conditions. There will be access to the pool parking lot for pool members and NJ Transit employees. Signage and police officers will be present to direct traffic.

Valley Street Milling and Paving Commencing July 16

On Monday, July 16, road repairs to Valley Street between Hixon Pl. and Millburn Ave. will begin as part of the Essex County 2018 Roadway Program. The work will last approximately until July 30, and will take place during the night. Please adhere to traffic signage and police officers during this time as work is being completed. 

Bike for the Bean! CycleBar Livingston Event to Raise Funds for Food Pantry

Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity (MEND) is hosting a “Bike for the Bean” fundraiser at CycleBar Livingston on Saturday, July 21 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. This event will raise funds for MEND’s new mobile food pantry, a converted school bus known as “The Green Bean.” Donations for this event will allow MEND to purchase and distribute more fresh and healthy ...