Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Updated: Columbia HS Principal Criticizes Media Coverage of Alleged Criminal Activities

The principal of Columbia High School criticized the media coverage of recent alleged criminal activities at the Maplewood school. In an interview today with Essex County Place, Elizabeth Aaron said that reporters "can be distracting and disruptive to students". Aaron added that she was "not really surprised" by media attention because she feels that news organizations cover "stuff they think will get the most attention".

A 17 year old student was arrested on Monday for allegedly bringing brass knuckles inside the school. CHS was on 'Code Red' lockdown for nearly two hours that day after a staff member reportedly called the Maplewood Police Department claiming that a weapon was present in the school. An 18 year old former student was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly trespassing on school property.

In September, a Language Arts teacher at the school was arrested for allegedly having sex with five of her students. Nicole Dufault, of Caldwell, was employed by the South Orange Maplewood School District for nine years. She was released from the Essex County Correctional Facility in October after her $500,000 bail was posted and is awaiting trial.

Regarding Monday's lockdown, Aaron said that she was "very impressed with the students and staff". She felt, however, that parents who arrived outside of the high school while the lockdown was taking place "made it difficult". 

"I understand the parental desire", she noted, but cautioned that "in an emergency, it can be a hamper instead of a help".

When asked about her opinion on whether metal detectors should be installed at CHS, Aaron responded that she is "100% opposed" to the idea.

"I believe in creating and sustaining a school culture that is open, supportive, nurturing and challenging for students", said Aaron. "I don’t think the presence of metal detectors supports that culture".

Overall, Aaron said that the lockdown "helped us to further understand how to manage emergencies".

Top Photo: News vans occupied the streets surrounding CHS after the arrest of teacher Nicole Dufault in September.

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