Suspended Secaucus principal speaks out at board meeting

first_imgSECAUCUS – Secaucus High School Principal Dr. Bob Berckes gave his side of the story behind why the district suspended him last month, at the May 10 school board meeting. Video of Berckes is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH-cl6k4yowLast month, Berckes and a vice principal were suspended, and a security guard reassigned.Various media outlets quoted sources as alleging that the suspensions had to do with the handling of a student who allegedly brought a knife to school, and a possible cover-up.Berckes said that on the day of that incident, assistant principal Jeffery Case (who was also suspended) and the school’s psychologist were investigating a student for possibly possessing a pocketknife.Berckes told the board he looked up school policy for weapons possession. He said he then called Superintendent Jennifer Montesano and told her about the student.Montesano later sent a police officer from the middle school in response. The officer, Berckes said, determined the incident was not considered weapons possession because the alleged knife was not used for “unlawful purposes.”Berckes then discussed disciplining the student with Montesano, he said. “I said, ‘Two days’ [suspension], she said, ‘Whatever you think, it’s your call. I don’t know this kid.’”Later on, Berckes said the student allegedly told him he was hiding marijuana in his shoe. He told Montesano and she agreed with increasing the student’s suspension to five days.Berckes gave the marijuana to the officer. The principal and officer said it was a juvenile matter, and the student wouldn’t be charged.That’s where things get tricky.Berckes said on the video that he asked the officer what to do with the substance. He alleges that the officer encouraged him to “flush it down the toilet.”The suspension and overall handling of the incident are in dispute, but Berckes wound up suspended. (For more of his side, see the video.)Ann Marie Grecco, the superintendent’s administrative assistant, said last week that the superintendent was not offering any comments on Berckes’ allegations at this time.In a statement to NJ.com, Montesano said that “Those who have expressed their opinions about this ongoing investigation have done so without the benefit of all of the facts that have been determined and remain to be determined.” ×last_img read more