MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Dr. Ronald Taylor, superintendent of South Orange Maplewood School District, sent a response this morning, Nov. 25, to the Nov. 14 email by James Davis III, Black Parents Workshop board of trustees chair. The email had questioned issues of security at Columbia High School and the agreement between the Board of Education and the company that provides the district's security guards. Here is Taylor's response:

Hello and thank you for your recent inquiry regarding the District’s Security.  As you correctly noted, often circulated stories do not contain accurate descriptions of what took place before, during and after an event.     

The Board and Administration are committed to providing a safe education and work environment, in and around our schools.  In hiring Dr. Thomas Shea as the District Director of Safety, the Board secured a well-respected safety expert for District-wide safety needs and the intricate details attributable to each school.   Dr. Shea’s work includes coordination with community members, staff, administrators, law enforcement and the District’s contracted security provider.

Specific staffing decisions and crisis planning details are based upon the needs of the buildings and the recommendations of appropriate District professionals.  How these decisions are made, and what the specific criteria include will not be disclosed, as such information appropriately remains confidential in order to best protect our school community.      

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Read the original email here.

The contract between the Board and U.S. Security Associates which you attached to your email does not reflect the requirements mandated by the Board in securing security professionals.  As the contract itself reflects, the terms, conditions, restrictions and requirements for the provision of security services in the Bid Specifications dated May 22, 2018 are incorporated into the contract.  I have attached a copy of the Technical Specifications part of the Bid Specifications for your convenience. The Specs reflect the requirements for training, including SORA training and certification, additional training by the contractor (including monthly in-service trainings and annual refresher training each August to prepare for the coming school year), as well as availability of District training on various subjects.

Any specific issues a parent may have regarding interactions with a security guard should be directed to the building Principal.

Thank you again.