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Does Newark Junior High Need a School Liaison Officer?

City council will vote on whether to authorize an agreement to appoint a part-time police officer to serve on the campuses of Newark Junior High and MacGregor Continuation.

Updated 1:17 p.m.

Since last month’s tragic school shooting in Connecticut that horrified the nation, safety of schools has been a widespread topic. 

And this week, Newark City Council will vote on a proposal that could help police and school officials address violence before it escalates.

City Council will vote Thursday on whether to authorize Mayor Al Nagy to sign an agreement with the Newark Unified School District for a School Liaison Officer program, according to the council’s Jan. 10 agenda

The agreement will allow the Newark Police Department to assign a part-time school liaison officer who can provide law enforcement services at Newark Junior High School and MacGregor Continuation School.

The move toward hiring a liaison officer is part of a the police department and school district’s planned effort to address issues of violence at Newark Junior High, according to the city council agenda.

Newark Unified has gone without a school resource officer at its junior high and alternative education center since 2010.

Superintendent of Schools Dave Marken said while the city's agenda notes that there has been an issue of "increased violence" at the junior high school, Newark Junior High has actually seen less incidents of violence in recent years.

Marken emphasized that the school liaison officer's primary role would be to help prevent violence and that the officer would also be made available to assist in providing resources to the district's elementary schools as well.

If authorized, the agreement allows for the officer to serve on the two campuses about four hours per day, four days per week – costing the Newark Unified School District approximately $50,000 per school year.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, Newark Superintendent of Schools Dave Marken expressed sympathy for the community of Newtown but noted that Newark Unified takes various precautions to keep its students safe.

“We have and we will continue to conduct lockdown drills and safety drills and have sent out safety talking tips," Marken said. "We still maintain that our schools are the safest place for our kids to be and we believe that."

Still, parents expressed anxiety over the safety of their children.

“Not many of us parents feel that our children are safe at school, and everytime we turn on the news it gets worse. We are about 1 or 2 of these attacks away from keeping our children home and safe,” a Patch reader who goes by NewBomb Turk commented.

Parents, do you think Newark Junior High and MacGregor Continuation School needs a school liaison officer? How do you rank your child’s school’s safety policies? Share your thoughts in our comments section below.

Nika Megino January 11, 2013 at 10:23 PM
We're actually working on a follow up. Thanks for the comments and checking for follow ups!
Nadja Adolf January 12, 2013 at 04:47 AM
Newark has always had a First Amendment issue - in fact, Newark was among the East Bay cities covered in a series of newspaper articles on local governments that ignored the law and denied the public access to public records . When I moved here, the city refused to allow people to read the police blotter without a written information request to the city manager although by law that is a public record. Supposedly arrest records were "confidential" - and apparently ignorance of the information was supposed to prevent "panic" or some other reaction the administration didn't want in the neighborhoods. The real result is that people couldn't find out what was happening, imagined scenarios that were often far worse than the actual events, and sold their houses and moved. Others fled the poor schools. The people who left tended toward the college educated and skilled trades; the people who replaced them tended to be socially dependent or gang oriented. Attempting to get the detail of Redevelopment Agency funding was also problematic, I never was able to access an itemized accounting. When there was a rather spectacular arrest at the former rental house a few days down I attempted to find out what had happened - and was told that in Newark arrests were "confidential" - yet another public record barred to the public.
Nadja Adolf January 12, 2013 at 04:53 AM
Nika posted the city council agenda. The city council agenda turned out to be using misleading statements to justify a program; when the rest of us do this, it is known as lying. The power elite does not like it when the public learns it is being misled, so Nika gets penalized. The district superintendent and the city council will cheerfully agree that the published city council agenda was an error by a journalist who didn't know her place.
Birgitta Bower January 13, 2013 at 04:37 AM
Nika Megino was doing her job as a journalist informing about the item on the City Agenda. While nobody took responsiblity for writing the original 'increased violence'; repeating it, suddenly meant that she was responsible for it! (Really, I can't write this without getting all upset again!) It was then put out in an email by principal Neal to all the parents of the 1000 Junior High School students that she was 'attempting to clarify' and 'according' to her she had gone by the text in the Council Agenda, and now she had 'offered an apology'...John Becker had apologized, we don't know why. Charlie Mensinger wrote that 'the Patch article included an incorrect reference to increased violence at NJHS', when the truth of the matter was the Patch article correctly referenced an inaccurate statement about increased violence". City Hall is apparently totally oblivious of who writes the Agenda items! When truth and reality get distorted, and someone is scapegoated, a young journalist, it is intolerable. We are supposed to set an example for the kids of Newark! this is not right. There is no moving on until, the School District and City has apologized to Nika Mengino, and acknowledge the great job she is doing for Newark!
Nadja Adolf January 13, 2013 at 08:02 AM
I agree. Call up and demand one. Don't expect an answer.

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