In a letter to Collingswood constituents, Mary Eva Colallilo announced Friday that she would be meeting with local officials to clarify when school authorities should notify police for student concerns.
By Matt Skoufalos
After a public outcry regarding a policy directive that obligated Collingswood school officials to call police before investigating disciplinary infractions, Camden County Prosecutor (CCPO) Mary Eva Colallilo issued a statement Friday that she would be working with local authorities to resolve questions raised by the policy.
Colallilo’s letter promised parents of Collingswood schoolchildren that she would meet with Collingswood Superintendent Scott Oswald, Board of Eduation President David Routzahn, Mayor Jim Maley, and Police Chief Kevin Carey “to clarify when police must be notified of school incidents.
“It is the goal of all parties involved to balance the protection of children with the need for law enforcement involvement in serious cases,” she wrote.
Colallilo also noted that the public would be updated “promptly” on “the progress and outcome of this meeting.”
“Parents should rest assured that this matter will be resolved shortly and in the best interest of your children.”
Maley confirmed the same in a Facebook update Friday, adding that the meeting would occur “early next week,” and promised “some type of a public forum” afterwards:
We will be reporting out to everyone, not just FB users, after that meeting. I expect we will be having some type of a public forum sometime after our meeting to answer what happened and to address ongoing concerns.
In the meantime, to be clear, the reversal of the directive means police will no longer intervene unless an issue was potentially criminal. School officials will again handle most infractions internally. The policy in effect prior to May is in force.
In an accompanying statement, Oswald reinforced his perspective that the school acted after “a clear and specific directive” from the CCPO that “police were to be called for all matters that ‘could be seen as criminal by anyone involved,’ including incidents as minor as a simple name calling.”
As of this week, the Collingswood Public Schools will return to business as usual and only report to police those incidents that are specifically outlined in the Uniform Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement Officials, as we have always done. This is good for kids and has been our goal all along.
He also pointed out that much of the accompanying sensationalism around the incident “was not true.
“The police did not arrive to Tatem School with lights and sirens,” Oswald wrote. “And, the high school did not ‘fail to report’ a serious incident. While it would be nice, we cannot react to every post on social media. As a school system, we have processes in place to address the interaction between government agencies. We follow those processes and will continue to do so to enact change that is good for our students.”
In addition to confirming the meeting with Colallilo, Maley, Routzahn, and Carey, Oswald maintained that he has been in contact with NJ Commissioner of Education David Hespe, Camden County Superintendent Lovell Pugh-Bassett, and Acting NJ Attorney General Robert Lougy.
“It is everyone’s goal to sit down and discuss this series of events to ensure that this never happens again,” the superintendent wrote. “There are still many questions that need to be answered about the procedures we are to follow moving forward. Once we have those answers, I will share them with you directly.”
Stick with NJ Pen for further updates.
For more coverage of this issue, see the following related stories:
- Police Investigations Mandated for Discipline Issues at Collingswood Schools
- Collingswood Schools, Police, Mayor Respond to Prosecutor’s Office on Discipline Cases
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