Asbury Park, NJ principal’s tweet with building fire, N-word caused lockdown
ASBURY PARK — The "hip hop" principal whose school was placed on lockdown Tuesday because of an "alarming social media post" took responsibility for writing the post, which he defended as away of "informing the public on the grave problems we are facing in Asbury Park."
The tweet that Asbury Park police thought posed a threat included a picture of a school that looked like flames were coming out of it.
"What I learned in school" was written on the image with crosshairs over the letter O’s in the word "school."
Of less concern to police, the tweet also included a profane gangsta rap reference, "N---a Wit an Attitude," and tagged rapper Ice Cube of N.W.A. fame.
Asbury Park High School and the Thurgood Marshall High School, where Reginald Mirthil is the principal, were place on lockdown for about an hour.
According to the Asbury Park Press, Mirthil had already been removed from duty before Tuesday's events. He was still listed as the school's principal on its website Friday afternoon.
"I apologize for any confusion the posts might have caused. I quickly shared the draft of my Hip Hop Principles newsletter with the district and teachers union president, explaining the impetus for my post minutes after I sent it Tuesday," Mirthil wrote in his tweet, which contained his two-page newsletter called Hip Hop Principles.
He said the picture had multiple meanings and contained images of two objects he says plague communities and schools. The image includes himself with an American flag around his neck, which he said represented hope.
In a separate tweet, Mirthil said that the Asbury Park school district sent a U.S. Marshal to his Jersey City home, which he described as "a manifestation of the APBOE's hatred." He said when the agent showed up he was exchanging emails with the district about an affirmative action investigation.
Mirthil, who calls himself "the Hip Hop Principal," praised Jersey City police detective Wisniewski for understanding the message he was trying to relay.
A spokesman for Asbury Park police on Friday afternoon did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information about whether Mirthil will be charged with any offense.
The Asbury Park school district was unexpectedly closed on Friday after teachers called out sick and 45 substitute teachers could not be secured, according to a message on the district website.
John Napolitani, president of the Asbury Park Education Association, told the Asbury Park Press that members decided on their own without the union's blessing to call out as a way to to protest the selection of RaShawn M. Adams as interim school superintendent.
The prom will go on Friday night as scheduled.