Local NJ school district accused of altering official emails

LaptopHighland Park school district officials, right on up to the superintendent, are under harsh scrutiny from parents of young children attending schools under their control. The dispute started in February of this year at Irving Elementary School, when parents discovered that students’ work, along with the grades they received on them, were all being publicly displayed on bulletin boards throughout the school’s hallways. When concerned parents contacted the district, they were met with what they call stall tactics and a “cover up,” and what the school calls a “misunderstanding.”

Basically, it goes like this: When parents first became aware of the grades being posted up at the school, some became concerned that young children might be embarrassed or intimidated by the prospect of their work and its feedback on show for the world. The policy, viewed as insensitive, was then looked into by some of those parents. At the time of the initial complaints, school officials told parents that teachers had simply misinterpreted an email from the district regarding the policy, and that they were not required to be posting work publicly. In compliance with the state’s public records laws, the district gave parents a printout of the policy which they said was the basis of an email from school officials to the teachers at Irving on the matter, which stated that teachers “may” post student grades, but were under no obligation to actually do so.

This seemed at odds with what some teachers were saying, however, and the parents pushed to see the actual email that had been sent, instead of a plain printout of the policy. At this point, the school began to stall and it took nearly a month for the concerned parents to make any headway. Eventually, the email was released with one major difference – it read that teachers “must” post student work and grades, not that they “may.” Whoops.

Parents are saying that the policy printout they originally received was deceptive and that it had obviously been edited after the fact to give the impression that teachers had received a different message than they really had. The district, in response, said that the original email was corrected, and a second one, which bared closer resemblance to the policy printout parents first received, was sent out instead. As far as Highland Parks Schools Superintendent Time Capone is concerned, the matter is being blown out of proportion, after all, they did provide the parents with both copies (eventually).

That might be acceptable if the teachers themselves could corroborate the district’s version of events. On the contrary, however, teachers stated that they only received the original email, and that the second version was never sent to them. This is believable as well, seeing as the revised policy was only released as its own printout, rather than an email correspondence, indicating that one may have, in fact, never existed.

Now parents are asking the district to own up to its mistake and apologize to parents and teachers for misleading them. There are some who think, perhaps, the district owes the students an apology as well.