Long Branch School Boys Bound And Gagged: Parents Demand Answers [AUDIO]
Long Branch parents demand answers after four young boys were allegedly bound and gagged by two janitors at Gregory Elementary School last Thursday.
According to a statement from Long Branch Superintendent of Schools Michael Salvatore, the incident occurred in the boys' bathroom, but details of what occurred were not released by the school. The names of the students, their ages and the names and salaries of the two employees have not been released.
But over the weekend rumors began to circulate on Facebook that four 2nd grade boys, all age 10, were tied up with caution tape by two school custodians in a school bathroom that was closed for repairs.
Police are also investigating reports that a picture was taken in the bathroom with a cell phone, according to Salvatore.
"Regardless of criminality, as the acts are claimed to be without malice and in jest; we have taken abrupt action as a safeguard to the children," said Salvatore.
Upon learning of the incident, Salvatore said the employees were immediately sent home and have been suspended without pay.
No charges have been filed as local authorities and the Monmouth County Prosecutor's office look into the incident.
"There's no evidence at this time that anything of a sexual nature occurred" said Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Richard Incremona.
Long Branch school officials have called the incident a "prank gone horribly wrong" but parents are outraged.
"I can't go prank your child and get away with it, so I don't think that's the appropriate word to be using right now...we are all sensitive about this, its our kids" said one mother.
Another mom of a ten year-old in the district was angry over what she believed seemed to be a joke to some school officials. "It's not a practical joke, its not funny and then to take pictures of it too...are you kidding me?"
But one man said he didn't believe it was anything more than the workers joking around. "I think the kids were horsing around and they [the workers] said they would tie them up...I don't think it was anything serious."
A letter describing the alleged misconduct went home with students on Monday, but parents say they should've been notified sooner.
"I'm devastated, why weren't we told on Thursday when this happened?" said Timothy Wallace, picking up his two kids.
At least one child leaving the school said students there felt unsafe. "The kids are scared" said the girl.
Others said it will make them think twice before sending their kids to the school everyday.
"It makes you nervous and scared, will they be okay while you're gone...its a horrible feeling."
A scheduled PTA meeting is planned at the Long Branch Elementary School Library tonight.
LETTER TO PARENTS
Dear Long Branch families,
Many of you have seen reports from local press about an incident that occurred at the Gregory school regarding allegations of misconduct against two school employees, as superintendent of schools, and as a parent I am extremely disturbed by the allegations as nothing is more important to me than the security of our children. This incident appears to be an isolated act, this is one incident too many I am writing to convey to you how serious we are taking these allegations and to inform you the steps we are taking as a district to support the affected school communities and to ensure the safety of our children. I’m in regular contact with the principal, staff and many parents from Gregory school and have spoken to each family directly involved in this incident and will continue to make myself available to those who need clarification, support and services surrounding this incident. In addition we have made resources available at the Gregory school for parents to assist to have age appropriate conversations with their child/ children in the specific actions they should take if a child may have been affected directly or indirectly by this incident.
While I cannot discuss the details of the case due to the ongoing investigation I want you to know that the district did indeed prompt this investigation and is fully cooperating with the LBPD, Monmouth county prosecutor’s office and Institutional Abuse as in all cases investigators may contact parents if they suspect if their children may have been involved either directly or as a witness. I know that you likely have mixed emotions or have questions I want to reassure you that our schools have support in place to promote a safe and secure learning environment.
Again, we are taking this manner very seriously and will continue to maintain regular contact with eh school to provide support and answers to other questions that may arise going forward I realize it may take some time but I will do everything in my power to help restore faith in our schools and most importantly make sure the children feel secure and comfortable when under our watch.
Michael Salvatore - Superintendent