🔴 Grand jury decides to not charge principal with child endangerment

🔴 He is still facing a criminal charge

🔴 Student's attorneys say decision does not prove his innocence

MAPLEWOOD — The principal of a high school in Essex County has been cleared of one criminal charge but is still accused of assaulting a Black student on school grounds.

A grand jury declined to charge Frank Sanchez with child endangerment, according to Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens.

Sanchez, the principal of Columbia High School in Maplewood, has been on paid administrative leave since January. Local outlet the Village Green reported that the school district has opted not to renew his contract which is set to expire at the end of June.

However, Sanchez still faces one charge of simple assault, a disorderly persons offense, in connection to the March 2023 incident involving a Black female student at Columbia.

Frank Sanchez (Essex County Jail)
Frank Sanchez (Essex County Jail)

Sanchez is accused of slamming a student against a wall, the student's attorneys said. Sanchez's attorney Robert Schwartz said to the New York Times that the 15-year-old female student was on her way to confront students she had threatened the day before.

According to the prosecutor's office, the simple assault charge did not fall under the grand jury's purview.

"The Grand Jury’s decision is welcome news to the many families and students who have been looking forward to welcoming Frank Sanchez back to Columbia High School and the South Orange and Maplewood School District community," said Kevin Gilbert, acting superintendent of the South Orange-Maplewood School District.


Decision does not prove NJ principal's innocence, attorneys say

The student is represented by James Davis and Davis Advocacy Consulting, LLC. Davis is also the chairman of the Black Parents Workshop in South Orange.

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Columbia High School in Maplewood
Columbia High School in Maplewood (Google Street View)

"This is not the first disappointing outcome a Black person has faced in our judicial system, and sadly will not be the last. Grand juries in Essex County have repeatedly failed to uphold justice for children in this community," the BPW said on Facebook.

Walter Fields, found of the BPW, said the decision was an example of why Black children suffer in silence and that it did not prove Sanchez's innocence.

"We are not deterred by the Grand Jury’s decision nor the cult-like worship of Mr. Sanchez by some in the South Orange-Maplewood community," said Fields.

Support for Columbia High School principal

Sanchez has received support from parents and students who have made shirts and signs to protest the charge against him.

A Facebook group, Friends of Frank, said they were "gratified" that the grand jury chose not to indict the principal.

"THANK YOU for making your voices heard in a unified cry for justice!" the group said.

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