WESTFIELD, NJ - Dr. Margaret Dolan, superintendent of Westfield Public Schools, released a statement Friday regarding an art exhibit created by several Westfield students and displayed at a recent district-wide art show that is drawing criticism from police officers and members of the community. The display, titled “Law Enforcement — Police Brutality,” included images of a man stabbed in the back by a badge and several of guns aimed at unarmed figures.

Dolan wrote:

I have worked closely with law enforcement for over 20 years and have the utmost respect for the men and women who put themselves on the line each day to keep our communities safe. Our schools support and respect our police department and law enforcement officers. The schools and police department work cooperatively daily and will continue to do so.

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Our 2 ½ day district art show, which featured hundreds of pieces of artwork created by students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, is now closed. The art project in question included drawings and captions depicting different viewpoints on a current controversial issue which was chosen by a small group of students. The teacher was attempting to encourage the students to look at more than one side of an issue. One student, for example, had drawn a poster he had seen online during the unrest in another state. The student then wrote his observation that people often rush to judgment before hearing what the real story is.  

I am sorry that information that has been passed along via social media and elsewhere has not told the entire story and has led some to believe that we do not respect law enforcement. We do, and we are teaching our students to do the same.

The controversial art exhibit has drawn international attention. “Chasing Jersey” on News 9 will air its story on the display Friday night during its 10 p.m. broadcast.

To read our earlier story, click here.