Superintendent Chuck Klaus has announced that the district will press charges in connection with vandalism that occurred on the field just after Haddonfield Memorial High School’s graduation on June 22.
Klaus recounted to the board of education how the morning after commencement, some eighth graders showed up to practice for their promotion ceremony and found the field strewn with beer bottles, cans and vomit.
Upon reviewing security-camera footage, Klaus determined that after a graduation party at Tavistock ended at 11:30 p.m. on the 22nd, about 150 students entered the field, with some remaining until early morning, when joggers use the track.
“It’s disappointing, it’s sad, and honestly it’s disheartening,” Klaus said. “We try to do a lot of work to do nice things for the kids. It feels a little bit like a betrayal. It is a betrayal in my mind, so we’ll have to try and change that culture.”
Though custodians were called in to clean up the field, the damage extended to bathrooms that were also vandalized and had to be closed during the promotion ceremony. Klaus estimates the students did about $2,500 worth of damage.
The next day, a letter was sent to parents to inform them of what happened and several students came forward offering to help.
“We’ve been in contact with the police,” Klaus added. “We’ve given them the videos. We have supplied any names of students we could identify and they’re going to do an investigation.
“We will press charges because they trespassed and vandalized. That’s our intention.”
Meanwhile, on the topic of an updated health curriculum, Klaus shared with the board several steps the district is taking to ensure transparency, including creating a survey for feedback on specific topics. He also touched on the shift from having sex education in 11th grade to eighth, per state Department of Education standards.
“We’re not going to talk about the sex as much as why it’s important you understand certain things,” Klaus explained. “This is about agency of your bodies, consent, knowing what choices may be made and how you deal with them as they come up, not about an act of sex.
“This is about saying, ‘These are things you need to be aware of because you may come across it in the future and you need to be aware,’” he added.
The associated website should be live in July.
During public comments, parents on both sides of the aisle spoke about the district’s celebration of Pride Month. Klaus explained to The Sun that the schools recognize Pride Month in a way similar to how they recognize Black History Month: Books were selected by teachers and librarians and reviewed by administrators, followed by a read-aloud.
Common concerns were that kids are being exposed to topics like sexuality and gender identity too soon and that it could be confusing for them. Another parent noted that having the language to address such issues may prevent teen suicides.
In other news:
- Renovations to school bathrooms have been put on hold because the district did not receive any bids. The job will go out for bid again at a time to be determined.
- The district will continue to pilot math programs for another year, as the teachers have not felt particularly drawn to a specific program.
The full board meeting is available on the district’s YouTube page, HSD Broadcast. The next board session will be July 21 at 7 p.m., in the Haddonfield Memorial High School library.