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Worcester school board, law enforcement still sparring over safety, transparency | News | #schoolsaftey


The war of words between the Worcester County Board of Education and the county’s state’s attorney and sheriff continued this week, with the board making public a response to the suggestion by the law enforcement officials that school administrators are suppressing reports of crime in the schools.

In an Oct. 23 letter to State’s Attorney Kris Heiser and Sheriff Matt Crisafulli, school board President Todd Ferrante began on a conciliatory note by saying all parties involved have failed to communicate effectively and that the board “welcomes constructive criticism with a goal of helping improve Worcester County Public Schools.”

But then, in a reference to a Sept. 21 statement from Heiser and Crisafulli that suggested the schools are glossing over incidents that have threatened the safety of students, he wrote, “The Board fails to see how engaging in a truth-versus-fiction dialogue through public forums is helpful in maintaining school safety.”

Heiser and Crisafulli countered with a statement released Tuesday.

“After waiting for over a month to receive any response, it is now abundantly clear that school officials plan to take no meaningful action to resolve the specific concerns law enforcement detailed for them during their presentation on Oct. 4.”

This dismissal of the board’s assertions and actions includes its creation of a task force to examine the situation, arguing that the composition of the group renders it ineffective. The state’s attorney and sheriff did say they would accept the board’s invitation to participate on the task force with different membership that “demonstrated [the] ability to effect positive changes within the schools.”

One of the more unusual aspects of the escalating argument between the school board and the state’s attorney and sheriff is that it is being conducted so publicly.

When asked if this was an attempt to generate public support for their position, Heiser replied, “I think it’s been very evident that our community does support what we are doing. We’ve received positive emails, calls and messages on social media from parents, teachers and citizens who want these issues addressed once and for all. That is what we intend to do.”

Per Ferrante’s letter, Heiser and Crisafulli have a standing invitation to participate on the school safety task force when the schedule is set. Among other issues to be discussed in that initial session is whether additional staff or other members should be brought into the group.

In the meantime, Heiser and Crisafulli have promised to provide community updates as they and the board decide how they will proceed.

*Statements attached
This story appears in the Oct. 27, 2023, print edition of the OC Today.





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