Wall, NJ officials receive backlash for offer to pay indicted students

A powerful state Senate Democrat is calling on school superintendent Wall and the Board of Education to resign after an offer of free tuition was made to students accused of hazing and criminal sexual interference.

New Jersey 101.5 learned that four students received the offer before Acting Monmouth County District Attorney Lori Linskey announced the juvenile complaints against an unknown number of students. The four students rejected the offer and all returned to class. NJ.com was the first to report on the December offer.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee and member of the Judiciary Committee, said the offer was upsetting enough for him to issue a statement.

“It almost pays to let the problem go away and I’m calling on the state Department of Education to put a monitor in there. And if that means Superintendent (Tracy Handerhan) and the Board of Education have to quit, then they should quit,” Sarlo told New Jersey 101.5.

Wall High School

Wall High School (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

The school board offers to meet Sarlo

Board of Education President Ralph Addonizio invited Sarlo to meet with the Board to provide him with the facts they have already shared with the public.

“This should dispel any misinformation that has spread over the past few weeks,” Addonizio wrote.

Sarlo did not comment on the board’s statement.

The board and Linskey did not provide details about what happened in the locker room or the number of students involved, as state law protects the privacy of minors accused of crimes.

Chris Adams, an attorney who represents one of the charged students, told New Jersey 101.5 the incident was nothing more than a “horse game” between teenagers, a characterization disputed by the family of a victim.

State Sen. Robert Singer, R-Ocean, who represents Wall in the Legislative Assembly, said the state education commissioner should look into what happened.

We do not have the power to recall elected officials. We don’t have the power to remove superintendents. The Education Commissioner does,” Singer said.

“The fact that this happened is offensive to everyone. I don’t know what the DA’s office knows. We’ll see this as we go. It’s just a terrible thing. Everyone is shaken by that. How can you? That’s something we all thought was in the past. Things like that would never happen again,” Singer said.

Contact journalist Dan Alexander at [email protected] or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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